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Membbr op the Puilosopqical Society of Great Britain. 

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Copyright, 1890, 


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GODS — SIVA; 50-65 






MANA, 74-87 




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— RUDRA — DEVOLUTION — EXTRACT, . . 131-138 

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THE RAJA — BHARATA, . ... 161-203 





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URE, 248-271 







WARFARE, 283-303 

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ASCENSION, . 304-326 



THE king's daughter — SAVITfifS CHOICE — 




OF KRISHNA, 342-352 




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— THE GARUDA — THE BRAHMANDA, . . 353-375 


SHIP OF THE '^DARK GOD'' — SUMMARY, . 376-393 




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npHE ancient books of India comprise such an 
-^ enormous mass of literature that the labor of a 
single lifetime would not suffice for the mastery of 
their contents and a solution of the problems which 
they present ; yet such has been the progress of Ori- 
ental philology during the last decade, that an intel- 
ligent survey of this great field of research is quite 
possible to the student. 

A careful study of the Puranas alone in the origi- 
nal Sanskrit would occupy half a century, but a 
valuable series of extracts and analyses can be found 
in twenty-six large folio volumes of manuscripts in the 
library of the Asiatic Society of Calcutta, and a year of 
patient work devoted to Professor Wilson's translations 
gives one an intelligible idea of their contents. 

Colonel Colin Mackenzie occupied his leisure time 
for years in collecting and arranging thirty-four large 
folio volumes of manuscripts, and his careful methods 
were of great value to scholars who came after him. 

Historical students have also been greatly aided by 
the pioneer work of those who have examined and 
compared genealogical lists, deciphered inscriptions, and 
discovered the sites of ancient cities. The Vedas 


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themselves have been carefully copied and translated, 
and, indeed, all of the most important portions of 
Indian lore are now available, to the English reader. 
Still, the books themselves, with their commentaries 
and the works connected with their history and 
philology, constitute so large a library that the busy 
people of modem times cannot afford to spend their 
years in sifting the contents of these colossal works 
in order to find the gems of thought which they may 

In a field so vast it is only by a division of labor 
that satisfactory results can be accomplished, and hence 
an effort has been made in the present volume, to give 
the chronology of these ancient books, showing where 
they belong in the world^s history, together with a re- 
sume of their teachings and specimens of their literary 
style. The work has been done as briefly as was con- . 
sistent with accuracy, in the belief that an intelligible 
idea of Hindu literature in a condensed form would be 
acceptable to many readers. 

Beginning with the earliest composition of the Ary- 
an race, the current of Br ah manic thought has been 
traced down through their most important works, 
which have been considered in chronological order from 
the earliest songs of the Eig-veda to the fanciful con- 
ceits of the latest Puranas. 

The primary object of the work has been accuracy 
of statement ; therefore the quotations from Hindu 
works have been carefully chosen from the best avail- 

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able translations, and no historical or chronological 
statement has been made without the concurrence of 
the highest authorities. 

It is a pleasure to acknowledge one^s indebtedness 
to such rare scholars as Professor F. Max Miiller, the 
late Horace llayman Wilson, a distinguished foreign 
member of the French Academy, and of the Imperial 
Academy of St. Petersburg, and Sir M. Monier- Williams, 
K. 0. I. E., the Boden Professor of Sanskrit at Oxford 
University, who has devoted fifty years of his life to 
the study of Sanskrit literature and to a solution of 
the problems of India. 

Although many other Orientalists have been con- 
sulted, and credit duly given where the quotations are 
made, yet the author is especially indebted to Professor 
F. Max Miiller and Sir M. Monier- Williams, for assist- 
ance derived from their personal letters, and particu- 
larly desires to acknowledge their great kindness in 
examining portions of the work. 

The manuscript of the chapter entitled *^ Krishna ^^ 
has been carefully revised by Sir M. Monier-Williams, 
who has also added valuable foot-notes, while other 
portions of the copy have been revised by Professor 
F. Max Miiller. 

In giving a brief synopsis of the great Indian 
Epics, the main lines of thought and incident in 
the original poems as given by Wheeler, Griffiths, and 
others, have been carefully followed. It has been 
deemed best^ however, to present these classic gems in 

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simpler forms of narration and description than can 
be found in literal translation. 

The work has been prepared in the hope that it 
may attract the attention of the general reader to the 
beauties of Hindu literature, and be of real service to 
careful students in this field of thought. To their 
interests it is commended by 


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A LITTLE attention to the diacritical points will 
enable the reader to pronounce correctly the 
musical names of the Hindus. 

In the present volume Sir M. Monier- Williams' method 
of transliteration, as presented in his Sanskrit Grammar, 
has been chiefly used; the nasal m, however, is repre- 
sented here as in the works of Prof. Max Muller by the 
italic letter; n, as pronounced in ^' singe, ^' is also indi- 
cated by the italic. 

Diacritical points are omitted from the foot-notes, the 
system of pronunciation being clearly presented in the 
body of the work. 

A — a is pronounced as in rural. 

A— a 


tar, father, etc. 

I— i 






U— u 






Ki— ri 



Ei— ri 



E— e 



Ai — ai 



Au — au 


Raus (German). 

N — n sounded like n in the French mon. 
N — n ^^ as in none (nun). 

m (italic) has a nasal sound. 

h is a Visarga, or a distinctly audible aspirate. 


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Kh — kh sounded like ch in chwrch, 
Kh — kh pronounced as in inMom. 


Gh— gh 

6— c 

Ch— ch 

T— t 
Th— th 

Dh— 4h 
Th— th 
Dh— dh 

S— 8 

^un or dq^. 


dolce (in music) = English ch 

in church, 
ant hi\L 

re^Z^aired (re(J Paired), 
nu^^ook, though more dental. 
arfAere, though more dental. 
5ure, sessions. 
sir or miss. 

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A MOST fascinating field for research is to be 
found in the ancient literary productions of the 
Hindus. These gems of antiquity belong to that region 
where the peaks of the Himalayas lift their icy brows 
to the morning light, and where in the groves at their 
feet were chanted the early Vedic hymns. 

India is the land of the cocoanut and the palm, of 
the feathery tamarind and the stately mango tree. The 
brightest birds from the southern isles come to feast in 
her spicy groves and linger among her flowers. Her 
sacred Ganges is indeed ^^the gift of heaven.^' Find- 
ing a birthplace in the snow fields between the moun- 
tain peaks, the pure current rushes down the rocky 
pathway in a long cascade, bringing life and hope to 
the green valleys below. 

The literature born in this dream-land of beauty and 
fragrance bears within its bosom the eloquence of poe- 
try and the rhythm of song ; but Indians ancient books 

are so colossal in their proportions that European 


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scholars looked upon them for years in dismay. Life 
is too short to enable any one student to obtain a 
complete knowledge of Oriental philology, language, and 

The late Horace Hay man Wilson devoted his vast 
learning and many years of arduous labor to the trans- 
lation of a portion of the ancient books of India, while 
Prof. Max Muller has given twenty of the best years of 
his life to the Veda alone. 

It was not until our own generation that Indian lit- 
erature was properly classified and published, even in 
the Sanskrit tongue. Hitherto the veil of antiquity 
and mysticism had hidden these works from investi- 
gation. The Vedas were chanted for ages before they 
were ever written, being handed down orally from one 
generation to the next. The years which were devoted 
to education by the better class of Hindus were largely 
occupied in learning the Veda from the lips of the 
teacher.^ The fact that these books for a long time 
existed only in the living volumes of memory gave them 
a weird influence over the European as well as the 
Hindu, and when we consider that the Veda occupies 
nearly the same position in Sanskrit that the Old Tes- 
tament holds in Hebrew literature, that it is as sacred 
to the Hindu as our own Scriptures are to the Chris- 
tian, we cannot wonder that it has attracted the atten- 
tion of scholars and antiquarians in every part of the 

After a time the Veda was committed to writ- 
ing, but still it existed only in manuscript, and when 
the directors of the East India Company invited the 

1 Origin and Growth of Religion, page 148. 

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Pandits, or Hindu professors, to publish a complete 
edition of their own sacred books, it became apparent 
that there was not a single Brahman in Bengal who 
could edit or supervise such an edition. The work 
therefore devolved entirely upon European scholars, and 
bravely they have accomplished their formidable task. 
Prof. Max Miiller patiently copied the entire text of 
the Rig- Veda and also the commentary upon it. And 
thus it came to pass that the whole of the work was 
first published, not on the banks of the sacred Ganges, 
but under the shadow of an English university. In 
restoring these old manuscripts and placing their 
thoughts in permanent form, our scholars have pre- 
served relics more ancient than the ruins of Nine- 
veh and Babylon ; more fascinating to the student of 
literature than the foundation stones of Thebes or 

The Sanskrit edition was translated by the inde- 
fatigable Wilson, and this ancient literary monu- 
ment of India becamq, the property of the English- 
speaking world. The work of restoring and translat- 
ing Hindu works was greatly facilitated by Colin 
Mackenzie, the enthusiastic collector of Indian MSS.; 
but to such men as Sir William Jones, H. T. Cole- 
brook, Horace Wilson, and Max Miiller, the world 
owes a debt which it can never pay. 

Orientalists were at first unable to resist the temp- 
tation of giving to the public the gems only, which 
they recovered from masses of almost worthless lit- 
erature, and it is evident that much harm has been 
done by this partial work at the hands of enthusiastic 
translators who have given us, unintentionally, no 

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doubt, far more exalted ideas of the general char- 
acter of these books than are justified by impartial 
views of even one complete section. The time has 
come when the Vedas must be treated with more 
candor, even though with less enthusiasm ; when 
they must receive honest criticism and impartial repre- 
sentation at the hands of scholars. Later translators, 
feeling that fancy must yield to fact, and imagination 
give place to fair investigation, have sought to make 
their task a faithful one. Paragraphs which are 
too gross for translation have been appended in 
the original text, so that the critical historian may 
decipher even these if necessary. A fair estimate of 
these books can, of course, be obtained only from 
complete translations, and one of the grandest results 
of the life-work of Max Muller is the service he has 
rendered in the translation of these large volumes 
of The Sacred Books of the East into the English 
tongue. He has been assisted in this arduous and 
discouraging work by such distinguished scholars 
as Beal, West, Biihler, Palmer, Cowell, Darme- 
steter, Ehys Davids, Eggeling, Jacobi, Jolly, Kern, 
Legge, Oldenberg, each one of whom is found in the 
front rank of his own special department of Oriental 

The scholarship and character of these men place 
the integrity of their translations beyond question, 
and they have opened before us a most fascinating 
field for investigation. When we add to this valuable 
series, the Eig-veda Sanhita, the Vishnu Purana 
and other translations by Prof. Wilson, the Rama- 
yana by Griffiths, the digest of the two great epics 

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by J. Talboys Wheeler, and the various partial trans- 
lations of the Maha-bharata by different scholars, 
besides a multitude of translations from Hindu drama 
and romance, the collection of Indian works now avail- 
able to the English reader is a very extensive one. 

According to Max Miiller, the Pandits were seriously 
opposed to the publication of the Veda in Sanskrit by 
English scholars, for although they are honest enough 
to admit that the edition is complete and authentic, 
its publication has taken from them their principal 
weapon against Christian missionaries. In former times 
the Brahmans claimed that there was no commandment 
in the Old Testament, no precept in the New, which 
had not been anticipated in the Veda, and if the in- 
credulous missionary called for the manuscript he was 
coolly informed that so sacred a book must not be pro- 
faned by the touch of an unbeliever. But Hindu as- 
sumptions are now discredited by the publication of the 
Veda in both Sanskrit and English. It was also claimed 
that the Veda was thousands of years older than the 
Old Testament, and that the historic portions of the 
Hebrew Scriptures were borrowed largely from Hindu 
sources. Many honest men, and even scholars, who 
should have been more careful in their statements, in- 
dorsed this theory, the novice with loud and confident 
assertion — in which some of them still indulge — the 
scholar with more reserve. 

Lieut. Wilford, who was an honest enthusiast, de- 
termined, with praiseworthy zeal, to find out the truth 
of the statements which were being freely made by a 
certain class of critics. With this object in view, he 
interviewed Hindu scholars, but without obtaining any 

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information. Becoming more explicit, he related the 
stories of Adam and Eve, of Abraham and Sarah, and 
assured them that they would find these narratives in 
their sacred books. To stimulate their zeal, he offered 
ample rewards if they would find in their ancient man- 
uscripts the stories he had told them. The reserve of 
the Pandits was fully conquered by the hope of gain, 
and ere long Lieut. Wilford was delighted to have 
placed in his hands Sanskrit manuscripts containing 
the very proofs he sought. Great was the enthusiasm 
in Calcutta, London, Paris, and throughout the uni- 
versities of Germany when these manuscripts were pro- 
nounced genuine by such experts as Sir William Jones 
and others. At last, however, the coincidences became 
so numerous, and the supply corresponded so exactly 
to the financial reward, that the manuscripts were 
again carefully examined, when it was found that 
clever forgeries had been committed; that leaves had 
been carefully inserted in ancient manuscripts, and on 
them had been written in Sanskrit the Bible stories 
which the Hindus had learned from the lips of the 
enthusiastic Wilford. 

Lieut. Wilford, to his honor be it said, did not for 
a moment hesitate to acknowledge that he had been 
imposed upon.^ But in the meantime, his essays had 
been widely read, and they are still quoted by men who 
have never heard of his public confession. 

The literature of the Vedas is not logical in its 
construction. There is no page of lucid reasoning or 
convincing argument in all its ancient lore. It is not 
scientific ; its theories of cosmogony and anthropology 

1 Chips, Vol. v., pp. 102-109. 

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are wild and fanciful in the extreme, and though of 
great historic value in many ways, it is in no sense 
whatever the production of historians. The dreamy 
sons of the Southland had very little taste for historic 
facts, and much of the literary value of their writings 
is found in their poetry. It is true that many of 
their hymns and songs are childish or vulgar — in the 
language of Max Miiller, they are ^^ tedious, low and 
commonplace.'' But amidst masses of literary rubbish 
we find poetic gems which are worthy of any age or 

Some of the songs of the Veda are entitled to high 
rank, and in many points the great epics of India will 
compare favorably with the immortal productions of 
Homer. The imagination of the Hindu is as luxuriant 
as his own tropical forests. His mighty rivers come 
pouring down from the grandest mountain ranges of 
the world, where amid the lightnings that flash around 
their peaks. Sublimity holds her court. Poetry lives in 
the very atmosphere of the Himalayas — it haunts the 
rich verdure at their feet, and kisses their snowy brows 
in the crimson light of the setting sun. The romance 
of India's people is as irresistible as the current of her 
Indus or the musical waves of her Ganges. 

The exploration of this labyrinth of thought is like 
wandering through a tropical forest, where the grandeur 
of towering trees alternates with sunny glades of vine- 
wreathed beauty and fragrant flowers; but the student 
must not gather the roses of romance and avoid the 
sterner work of careful analysis ; it is the province of 
fair investigation to examine every tree and floral vine 
in this wilderness of literature, and to keep carefully 

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along the path of honest criticism even in the Indian 
land of enchantment. 


The word Veda means knowledge and is the term 
applied to divine unwritten knowledge. In the Hindu 
world it is not only the earliest literary production, 
but the acknowledged standard of authority referred to 
in all their important works, both sacred and profane. 
The Veda is quoted or alluded to in philosophical, 
grammatical, lexicographical and metrical, as well as 
theological treatises. Indeed, this important work may 
be said to form the background of the whole literary 
world of India, and upon all subjects it is considered 
the best and highest authority, from which there is no 

The name Veda is applied by the Brahmans to the 
whole body of their sacred writings. The earliest col- 
lection of Vedic literature may be classed in three 
grand divisions : 

1. Mantra, or the Hymns of Prayer and Praise, 
as found in the Rig-veda. By this is meant the col- 
lection of hymns and invocations, which were doubt- 
less composed by a succession of poets in very early 
times, and which, while they are of unequal poetical 
merit and contain many foolish repetitions, are still 
important as embodying the earliest forms of relig- 
ious conception known in the history of this strange 

2. The Brahma na, or the ritualistic precepts and 
illustrations which are intended to direct the priests 
in the performance of their religious ceremonies. They 

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also give long and tedious explanations of the origin 
and meaning of the sacrifices themselves. 

3. The XJpanishads, which are suppose* to teach 
the doctrines of the Vedas, although it would be a 
difficult taek to deduce any system either of faith or 
practice from this labyrinth of confused philosophy and 
fanciful conceits. 

The later important divisions of Hindu literature 

1. The Ramayana and the Maha-bharata. These co- 
lossal epic poems^ of themselves form a grand division 
of literature and reflect the romance and poetry of 
the Hindu people. They present the most brilliant 
pictures of Oriental coloring, and the most gorge<5us 
scenes of Eastern magnificence to be found upon the 
pages of fancy. 

2. The Puranas, which are confessedly the latest of 
all productions in Hindu sacred literature; they claim 
to have been written by a generous sage in order to 
simplify the doctrines of the Veda for the benefit of 
women and others who might not aspire to the reading 
or comprehension of the earlier works. Although they 
do not, critically speaking, belong to the Vedic age, 
they contain Vedic legends which have been worked up 
in more modern form, showing that these works were 
finally given to the world at a time when ^^the world 
of the Veda,^^ in its strictest sense, was living only 
in tradition. 

The Vedas proper are only four in number, viz. : the 
Rig-veda, which is the book of praise, and of whose 

iProf. Williams speaks of the grieat epics as being "the bible of the 
mythological phase of Brahmanism.'^ 

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hymns there is but one genuine collection. The Sama- 
veda is merely an extract from the older work ; the 
Yajur-veda is another manual of extracts intended for 
the use of the priests; and the fourth, or Atharva- 
veda/ is of much later origin, and of inferior literary 
value. Therefore the Rig-veda is the primary work of 
its class, and the only one of importance. 

Each of the Vedas is an unarranged and promis- 
cuous mass of hymns, prayers, exhortations, and dog- 
mas, without either system or harmony. 

According to the teaching of the Hindu priests, 
the Vedas were coeval with the creation, being simul- 
taneous with the first breath of Brahma — the creative 
power — or, at all events, Brahma was their author 
and they were among the first things created. 

In the Ohandogya Upanishad, 17th -ff/mnda and 4th 
Prapd^Aaka, it is said of the productions of the Ve- 
das, " Pra^^dpati (the Creator) brooded over the worlds, 
and from them, thus brooded on, he squeezed out the 
essences, Agni (fire) from the earth, Vayu (air) from 
the sky, Aditya (the sun) from heaven. 

^^ He brooded over these three deities, and from them, 
thus brooded over, he squeezed out the essences — the 

1 The Atharva-veda, which has been ably edited by Professora Both and 
Whitney, is confessedly the most modem of the four, and was not recog- 
nized as a fourth Veda until a much later period, according to some au- 
thorities, not until after Manu. 

Says Prof. Whitney, "The most prominent characteristic feature of the 
Atharvan is the multitude of incantations which it contains; . . they are 
directed to the procuring of the greatest variety of desirable ends; most 
frequently, perhaps, long life or recovery from grievous sickness is the ob- 
ject sought ; in that case a talisman, such as a necklace, is sometimes given, 
or in numerous instances, some plant endowed with marvelous virtues is 
to be the immediate external means of cure; further, the attainment of 
wealth or power is aimed at, the downfall of enemies, success in love or 
In play, the removal of petty pests, and so on, even down to the growth of 
hair on a bald i^'— Oriental and Lin. Studies, Vol. 1, page 80, 

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Rik verses from Agni; the Yajrus verses from Vayu ; 
the Saman verses from Aditya. 

** He brooded over the three-fold knowledge (the three 
Vedas), and from it, thus brooded over, he squeezed 
out the essences, the sacred interjection Bhus from the 
Rik verses, the sacred interjection Bhuvas from the 
Yaj^us verses, and the sacred interjection Svar from 
the Saman verses/^ 

Each Vedic hymn is said to have its Rishi — the sage 
or philosopher by whom it was first communicated — 
some of whom were members of the military, and others 
of the Brahmanical order. Each Veda consists of two 
parts, called the Mantra and the Brahmana, or pray- 
ers and precepts. The complete collection of hymns, 
prayers, and invocations belonging to one Veda is called 
its Sanhita. 


The Sanskrit language is antique in form and per- 
fect in structure ; it has the refinement of the Greek 
and the fluency of the Latin, while it bears a strong 
affinity to both. This classical language of the Hindus 
held the same position in India which was accorded to 
the Greek at Alexandria, and its importance was equal 
to that of the Latin during the Middle Ages. But 
the Sanskrit tongue does not disclose the origin of the 
races that first spoke it,^ and the power of historic 
narration is entirely wanting in its earliest writers. 

Klaproth, Kennedy, and others, claim that at a re- 
mote period the tribes which were descended from Ja- 
pheth, the third son of Noah, came from the northwest 

1 It had ceased to be a spoken language at least 300 B. C.—Scl. of Lang.^ 
p, 147. 

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and settled in the plains of Hindustan, bringing with, 
them their own language, which was the stock of the 
Sanskrit. This position is apparently endorsed by 
Adelung/ but the data concerning the first peopling of 
India is not entirely satisfactory. The Sanskrit fur- 
nishes no key with which to unlock the vaults of 
its own historic treasures. From the first hymn of 
the Vedas to the last fable of the Puranas — a period 
extending over three thousand years — there is no page 
of clear historic fact ; no biographical account that 
is not so mixed with legend as to make it unintel- 

The Vedas are confessedly the oldest of the Hindu 
scriptures. But their age has been greatly overesti- 
mated. It has been customary for a certain class of 
writers to ascribe to them an antiquity greater by thous- 
ands of years than they can justly claim. So long 
as the question of their age was purely guess-work 
and the wish was father to the thought, a few thous- 
ands, or even a million of years could be added with- 
out scruple, and as Sir William Jones remarked, ^^The 
comprehensive mind of an Indian chronologist has no 
limits. ^^ History,' however, is taking the place of specu- 
lation in this, as well as other departments. Says Max 
Miiller, " It will be difficult to settle whether the Veda 
is the oldest of books, and whether some portions of the 
Old Testament may not be traced back to the same, 
or even an earlier date than the oldest hymns of the 

1 Hist. Sans. Lit., p. 1. 

2 The one reliable date which we have for Indian history before Christ 
is the mention by Greek historians of an Indian prince (Sandrokottos). 
He was a contemporary of the early successors of Alexander. . . . He 
was the founder of a new dynasty upon the Ganges, and his grandson 
Adoka was the Constantine of Buddhism.— Whitney. 

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hindC literatube. 13 

Veda/^^ We have no Vedic manuscripts which extend 
back further than 1200 or 1500 years after Christ, but 
their contents have been handed down orally from the 
time of their earliest composition until they were 
committed to writing, at a comparatively modern date. 

In the face of these facts it is no wonder that the 
eminent Orientalist remarks that *^It is not very easy 
to bridge over this gulf of three thousand years/^ 
And again, *'It is by no means certain that a further 
study of Sanskrit will not deprive many a book of 
its claims to any high antiquity. Cei-tain portions of 
the Veda even, which, as far as our knowledge goes 
at present, we are perfectly justified in referring to 
the tenth or twelfth century before our era, may 
dwindle down from their high estate, and those who 
have believed in their extreme antiquity will then be 
held up to blame or ridicule."* 

There is very little historic data on which to form 
an opinion concerning the time when the Veda began 
to be written. Max Miiller says, *^We shall not be 
able to trace the Indian alphabet much beyond Alexan- 
der's invasion. It existed, however, before Alexander. '^ 
And again, *^The Sanskrit alphabet has always been 
suspected of being derived from a Semitic source and 
has not certainly been traced back to a Greek source.''^ 
He argues that while the alphabet itself existed earlier, 
the practice of writing came in * Howard the latter 
part of the Sutra period, '^ and was probably at that 
time applied to the preservation of the Vedic hymns 
and other forms of Brahmanic literature. The Maha- 

1 Chips, Vol. 1, p. 5. 8 Hist. Sans. Lit, pp. 516 and 531. 

2Int. Sci. ofRel., p.301. 

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bharata says, however, that ^^ Those who sell the Vedas, 
and even those who write them, shall go to hell," show- 
ing that although writing was in use at the time of 
the compilation of the Maha-bharata, it was by no 
means popular as the medium of communication for the 
Vedas. The fact that there are no Brahmanic inscrip- 
tions earlier than the third century before Christ shows 
the comparatively late date of the art of writing in 
India, and Max Miiller maintains that until the latter 
part of the Sutra period '^the collection of hymns and 
the immense mass of Brahmanic literature were pre- 
served by means of or^J tradition only."^ 

The Sutra period here alluded to was about 500 B. 
C; it was an era of remarkable activity in the intel- 
lectual world. In India it marked the formulation of 
Brahmanism by her priesthood as shown in her system 
of jurisprudence collated by Manu, and witnessed the 
reformation of Buddha, who led the reaction against 
her recognized code. It is looked upon, too, as the ap- 
proximate date for the beginnings of her great epics. 
Greece had then her Pythagoras, and according to 
Mitford, ^^no Grecian state had its laws put into writ- 
ing until about the same period"* (the reign of Cyrus, 
king of Persia.) Persia at this important epoch had 
not only her Cyrus, but also her Zoroaster. The He- 
brews had their Daniel, and China^s intellectual horizon 
was illumined by her Confucius. 

Vedic literature is classified by Prof. Max Miiller in 
four strata : 

1st. Sutra Period, 500 B. C. 

2d. Brahmana Period, 600-800 B. C. 

1 Hist. Sans. Lit., p. 524. 2 Hist of Greece, Vol. I., p. 1»9, 

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hindC literature. 15 

3d. Mantra Period, 800-1000 B. C. ( To this pe- 
riod he ascribes the collection and systematic arrange- 
ment of the Vedic hymns and formulas.) 

4th. KhBudsLB Period, 1000 B. G. ('^Representing 
the free growth of sacred poetry. '' ) There are but few 
hymns, however, belonging to the earliest or iT^andas 

Close investigation has greatly reduced the supposed 
antiquity of the Vedas, and is very likely to reduce it 
still further. But in the light of their present knowl- 
edge, Prof. Max MuUer and Sir Monier Williams agree 
in assigning the original composition of the early hymns 
to the time between 1000 and 1500 B. C.^ Kennedy 
places the period "at which they began to be com- 
posed'' at 1100 to 1200 B. C. Stevenson, Wilson, 
Wheeler, and Barth^lemy St. Hilaire express similar 
opinions. Thus it will be seen that the ablest Orien- 
talists assign to these books an origin which is far this 
side of Abraham; indeed, the extreme limit sanctioned 
by modem scholars scarcely reaches back to the birth 
of Moses. 

The Vedas furnish no chronology save their fabulous 
millions of years. In the whole of their literature 
there is not a single reliable date by which any event 
or series of events may be assigned to its proper place 
in the world's chronology. 

Still, the fact remains that these early hymns and 
songs are hoary with the frost of centuries. Reaching 
back in the world's history almost to the birth of 
Moses, they were chanted in the sacred groves of India 
long before the Persian conqueror crossed the Indus. 

1 Chips, Vol. I., p. 13; also Brah. and Hin., p. 7. 

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Since their musical numbers were first breathed upon 
the air, cities have risen and fallen, and the earth has 
been swept by successive storms of conquest. The 
palaces of Nineveh and the temples of Babylon have 
slept for ages in the long night of time, but the simple 
hymns of the Veda still live in the hearts of men. 
They belong to the realm of song, and tholight must 
live though monarchs die and thrones decay. 


This is by far the most important, as well as the 
most primitive of the collection, the others comprising 
little more than extracts from it, together with a variety 
of incantations, charms, and formulas for different cere- 
monies. The Rig-veda means the hymns of praise, or 
hymns to celebrate praises. Some of them are written 
in metre, and others in prose. They are dedicated to 
a variety of gods, and some of them are beautiful com- 
positions. The gods are constantly invoked to protect 
their worshipers, to grant them food, large flocks, large 
families, and a long life, for all of which they are to 
be rewarded with praises and sacrifices, offered day after 
day, or at certain seasons of the year. 

Sanskrit literature without this book would be like 
Greek without the works of Homer. The Rig-veda 
belongs to universal history as well as to the history of 
India, and fills a place in the Aryan world of letters 
that can be supplied by no other book. This venera- 
ble work, which is the fountain head of Vedic litera- 
ture, is composed of about one thousand and twenty- 
eight hymns, each hymn containing an average of ten 
verses each. In the language of Mtiller, '^ Large num- 

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hikdO litebatube. 17 

bers of the Vedic hymns are childish in the extreme/' 
Translations of these compositions, even when en- 
riched by all the graces of modem scholarship, are 
often marked with tedious repetitions and offensive 
epithets. They sometimes pass abruptly from sound 
wisdom to childish foolishness, and from high culture 
to the lowest grade of morality, while sudden transi- 
tions from the sublime to the ridiculous are not at all 
infrequent.* The Rig-veda does not teach idolatry, 
although there is no doubt that multitudes of the 
Brahman devotees are now veritable idol worshipers. 
The worship of images is declared to be an act of 
inferior merit, and it is claimed that in reality even 
the idolaters worship only one God, who is manifested 
in various fonns, and that their images of stone and 
clay are used merely to represent him. This is done 
upon the principle that the ignorant classes cannot 
raise their conceptions to abstract deity, but need some 
tangible object to which their devotions may be ad- 
dressed. It is said that ^^The vulgar look for their 
gods in the water; men of more extended knowledge, 
in the celestial bodies : the ignorant, in wood, brick, 
and stone. ^' Another theory is that in the beginning 
there was only one God — ^but that he made many others, 
and hence all the phenomena of nature were personi- 
fied and worshiped. The greater number of the prayers 
and invocations are mythological and unmeaning, some 
of them claiming that the gods are all equal, as in the 
stanza, ^* Among you, gods, there are none that are 

1 Sir Monier Williams says, " Although tiie majority of the Hindus believe 
that the four Yedas contain all that is good, great and divine, yet these com- 
positions will be found, when taken as a whole, to abound more in puerile 
Ideas than in lofty conceptions."— JJraA. and Bin., p. i8. 

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small, none that are young — you are all great indeed/' 
Still, the hymns addressed to individual deities are 
very liable to claim supremacy for the god addressed, 
while others claim that there is but one, as in the 
following : 

** In the beginning there arose a golden child ; 
He was the one bom Lord of all that is ; 
He established the earth and this sky. 
Who is the God to whom we offer sacrifices. 

^^He who gives life, he who gives strength. 
Whose command all the bright gods revere; 
Whose shadow is immortality, whose shadow is death. 
Who is the God to whom we shall offer our 
• sacrifice. 

" He whose greatness these snowy mountains. 
Whose greatness the sea proclaims with the distant 

He whose these regions are, as it were his two arms. 
Who is the God to whom we shall offer our sacrifice. 

^' He to whom heaven and earth, standing firm by 
his will. 
Look up tremblingly, inwardly. 
He over whom the rising sun stands forth. 
Who is the God to whom we shall offer sacrifices. 

^* He who by his might looked even over the water 
clouds — 
The clouds which gave strength and lit the sacrifice. 
He who alone is God, above all gods. 
Who is the God to whom we shall offer sacrifice. '** 

IR-V., 10-12, Mailer's trans. 

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But what we sometimes regard as monotheism is in 
reality pantheism, or the belief that the creation and 
Creator are identical with each other. Brahman in the 
neuter form means simply infinite being — the only 
eternal essence, which, when it passes into actual 
manifested existence, is called Brahma, and develops 
itself in various forms. The creed of many of the 
Hindus at the present day asserts that there is only 
one real being in existence, and that he constitutes the 
universe. While some of the hymns seem to teach 
monotheism, there are allusions in the Rig-veda to 
thirty-three gods.^ 

One hymn assigns all the phenomena of nature to 
one first cause, while another attributes them to several 
causes operating independently, and still another argues 
that the whole visible creation is animated by one uni- 
versal, all-pervading spirit. 

As the Semitic races relapsed occasionally into poly- 
theism, so the Hindus have sometimes returned to mono- 
theism, but says Prof. Muller, ^*In both cases these 
changes were not the result of a gradual and regular 
progress, but of individual impulses and peculiar in- 
fluences. The mere occurrence of monotheistic ideas is 
not sufficient to stamp any class of hymns as of modern 
date. '^2 The religion of the Rig-veda was either poly- 
theism, monotheism, tritheism, or pantheism, according 
to the individual preference of the worshiper, but it 
was not yet idolatry. The forces of nature were spoken 
of as being under the control of divine personages, but 

1 Max Miiller says, 'No doubt if we must employ technical terms, the 
religion of the Veda is polytheism, not monotheism."— C%tp«, Vol. /, 
p. 27. 

2 Hist. Sans. Lit., p. 559. 

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they were not as yet represented by images and wor- 

A beautiful hymn in the Veda is addressed to the sky 
god, Varuna, as follows : 

*^The mighty Varuna who rules above, looks down 
Upon the worlds, his kingdom, as if close at hand. 
When men imagine they do aught by stealth, he knows it. 
No one can stand, or walk, or softly glide along, 
Or hide in dark recesses, or lurk in secret cell. 
But Varuna detects him, and his movements spies ; 
Two persons may devise some plot, together sitting. 
And think themselves alone ; but he, the king, is there, 
A third, and sees it all. . . . His messengers descend 
Countless from his abode, forever traversing 
This world, and scanning with a thousand eyes its in- 
Whatever within this earth and all within the sky; 
Yea, all that is beyond. King Varuna perceives. 
The winkings of men's eyes are numbered all by him ; 
He wields the universe as gamesters handle dice."^ 

Another gem is found in the hymn of adoration to 
the sun god (Surya): 

^' Behold, the rays of dawn like heralds lead on high 
The Sun, that men may see the great, all-knowing God. 
The stars slink off like thieves in company with Night, 
Before the all-seeing eyes whose beams reveal his 

Gleaming like brilliant flames, to nation after nation. 

1 Atharva-veda, IV., 16, Williams' trans. 

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Surya, with flaming locks, clear-sighted god of day. 
Thy seven ruddy mare3 bear on thy rushing car. 
With these thy self-yoked steeds, seven daughters of 

thy chariot. 
Onward thou dost advance. To thy refulgent orb 
Beyond this lower gloom, and upward to the light. 
Would we ascend, Sun, thou god among the gods.^^^ 

These are representatives of the finest poetry of early 
Vedic literature. There are others like the following 
^^ Purusha hymn of the Rig-veda,'' which is remarkable 
for its peculiar theological combination, and seems to 
teach monotheism and polytheism, as well as pantheism 
and the institution of caste, which has been the bane 
of India for more than two thousand years : 

^^The embodied spirit has a thousand heads, 
A thousand eyes, a thousand feet, around 
On every side enveloping the earth. 
Yet filling space no larger than a span. 
He is himself this very universe ; 
He is whatever is, has been, and shall be ; 
He is the Lord of immortality. 
All creatures are one-fourth of him, three-fourths 
Are that which is immortal in the sky. 
From him called Purusha was born Viraj, 
And from Viraj was Purusha produced. 
Whom gods and holy men made their oblation. 
With Purusha as victim, they performed 
A sacrifice. When they divided him. 
How did they cut him up ? What was his mouth ? 

1 Williams' trans. 

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What were his arms ? and what his thighs and feet ? 
The Brahman was his mouth, the kingly soldier 
Was made his arms, the husbandman his thighs. 
The servile Sudra issued from his feef * 

Viraj was a secondary creator, considered sometimes 
of the feminine and sometimes of the masculine gender. 
Manu says that Purusha, the first male, was called 
Brahma and was produced from the supreme self-ex- 
istent spirit. 

It is easy to see how the system of caste was fos- 
tered by a hymn which declares that the priestly class 
issued from Purusha's mouth, the soldier from his 
arms, the husbandman from his thighs, and the slave 
from his feet. 

The hymns of the Veda too often descend to bac- 
chanalian songs in honor of the god Soma,* the Bac- 
chus of India, and the whole of the ninth book of the 
Eig-veda is devoted to his praise. The soma is a plant 
said to have been brought "by a fair winged falcon 
from afar^^ and planted in India. It is a creeper with 
succulent leafless stems, bearing the botanical name of 
Asclepias Acida. The juice, after being expressed by 
stones and mixed with milk or barley juice, became a 
strong intoxicant with whose exhilarating properties the 
Aryans were so infatuated that they supposed it was 
endowed with its wonderful powers by a god. The 
soma became to them the king of plants, and its juice 
was largely used in offerings to their gods, some of 
whom were supposed to have a peculiar weakness for 

1 R.-v. (Man. 10-90), Williams' trans. 

2 In later times the name of Soma was also applied to the moon. 

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hindC litebatube. 23 

the intoxicating draught. Therefore not only the one 
hundred and fourteen hymns of the ninth book of the 
Kig-veda are devoted to the praise of the Hindu Bac- 
chus, but there are many others in different parts of 
the work, as well as frequent references to his favorite 
beverage in those songs which are not entirely devoted 
to its glory. The following is a sample of the hymns 
to Soma: 

" Oh, soma drunk by us, be bliss to our hearts as 
a father is indulgent to a son. May these glory-con- 
ferring, protecting soma streams knit together my 
joints as cows draw together a chariot falling in pieces ; 
may they keep us from a loosely knit worship ; ^ may 
they deliver me from sickness.'^* 

The various gods to whom the soma juice is offered 
in sacrifice are represented as partaking of it even to 
drunkenness. For instance, "When bright Maruts 
(the storm gods) you harness to your car over the 
mountain, then you exhilarate yourselves with the soma 
juice. ^^* And again, " Drinker of the pure soma, 
Vayu, come to us. I offer thee the exhilarating food 
of which thou hast the prior drinking."* Also the 
following, to be chanted when offering soma to Mitra 
and Varuna, both names being often applied to the 
sun, although Varuna is generally spoken of as the god 
of the firmament, or sky god : 

1 When the soma is drunk the worship becomes consolidated. 

2R.-V. San. Vol. V. p. 93, Wilson's trans. In a recent letter to the author 
Prof. Max Miiller says of Wilson's translation, " It professes to give the 
traditional rendering of the hymns according to Sayana^s commentary, and 
as such it will always retain a place of honor." 

8 Vol. VI., p. 849. ilbid, Vol. IV., p. 186. 

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^^May this soma libation be gratifying to Mitra and 
Varuna, to be enjoyed by them as they drink of it in- 
clining downwards. A divine beverage, fit to be en- 
joyed by the gods, may all the gods well pleased to-day 
accept it.^^* 

The intoxicating liquid was presented in ladles to 
the deities invoked, and in all cases, says Wilson, ^^ the 
residue of the liquor was taken by the assistants.^' The 
condition of the worshipers after the rites were ac- 
complished may be better imagined than described. 

One of the favorite gods of the Kig-veda was Indra, 
who was the Jupiter of the Aryan race. He is re- 
peatedly referred to as the '^rain god,'' ^^the air-born 
Indra," ^^the thunderer." In the earliest age he is 
represented as inhabiting the sky between the earth and 
the sun, riding upon the clouds and pouring forth the 
rain, hurling the forked lightning upon the earth, and 
speaking to men in the awful tones of thunder. But 
Indra's special weakness is for soma juice, which he 
quaffs in fabulous quantities, and thus invigorated be- 
comes invincible, and hastens away to vanquish the hos- 
tile powers of the atmosphere which are withholding 
the rain from the parched earth. 

^*Indra, animated by the soma juice, thou didst en- 
gage in battle. . . Exhilarated by the soma, thou hast 
expelled the waters from the clouds. . . In thee, Indra, 
is all vigor fully concentrated. Thy will delights to 
drink the soma juice."* 

1 Vol. II., p. 53. 

2 Indra will he treated more fully in the following chapter. 

3 R.-V., San., Vol. I., p. 137. 

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hixdC literature. 26 

Again he is addressed as follows : 

'^ Lord of steeds ! Thou art exhilarated when the 
sacred soma juice has been imbibed by thee. . . It is 
exhilarating, inebriating, invigorating, and the yielder 
of delight, satisfying as food, and the giver of a thou- 
sand pleasures. May the soma libation reach you, for 
it is exhilarating, invigorating, inebriating, most pre- 
cious. It is companionable, Indra, enjoyable, the over- 
thrower of hosts — immortal. Thine inebriety is most 
intense, nevertheless thine acts are most beneficent. 
Thou desirest, bountiful giver of hoi*ses, that both thy 
inebriety and thy beneficence should be the means of 
destroying enemies and distributing riches.'^* 

Indra is also repeatedly invoked as "Voracious 
drinker of the soma,'^ "Indra with the handsome 
chin . . . drinker of the soma, showercr of blessings,'^ 
etc. He is also repeatedly hymned as "Handsome- 
jawed Indra, ^^ and it is said "The exhilarating soma 
juices flew toward the shining Indra as milch kine 
hasten to their calves, ^^^ and again, " The stomach of 
Indra is as capacious a receptacle of soma as a lake, 
for he has partaken of it at many sacrifices, and inas- 
much as he has eaten the first viands he has been the 
slayer of Vritra and has shared the soma juice with 
the gods.^^^ The condition of the inferior deities who 
shared Indra^s generosity is perhaps best illustrated in 
the following verse : 

"Swift is the excessive and girth-distending inebria- 
tion of Yajata and Mayin. By drinking these juices 

1 Vol. II., p. 170. 2 R..V. San., Vol. V., p. 307. » Vol. HI., p. 60. 

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they urge one another to drink. They find the copi- 
ous draught the prompt giver of intoxication.^^* 

The hymn from which the above is an extract also 
represents the wife of a great sage as joining in the 
convivialities of the occasion, while at another festive 
scene the gods and sages are represented as ^^ screaming 
like swans ^* when exhilarated by the flowing bowl. 

The doctrine of metempsychosis, or transmigration 
of souls, which afterward became a cardinal doctrine of 
Hindu faith, finds no place in the Eig-veda, which is 
also free from the crime of child marriage, the barbar- 
ous customs of caste, and the idolatry of modern times. 
The people were then rich in flocks and herds ; they 
practiced the art of agriculture, and to a certain 
extent that of architecture. Polygamy existed, but was 
not the rule of life. They killed animals and ate ani- 
mal food, not even objecting to the flesh of cows. 
Their vices were sensuality and gambling, as well as 

Hymns of a still more indelicate nature than the 
foregoing might be cited, but it is pleasanter to close 
these extracts from the Kig-veda with the following 
beautiful "Hymn to Ushas^' (the Dawn). 

1. "She shines upon us like a young wife, rousing 
every living being to go to his work. When the fire 
had to be kindled by men, she made the light by strik- 
ing down darkness. 

2. " She rose up spreading far and wide, and moving 
everywhere. She grew in brightness wearing her bril- 

1 Ibid, Vol. ni., p. 311. 

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liant garment. The mother of the cows (the inomings), 
the leader of the days, she shone gold-colored, lovely 
to behold. 

3. ^^ She, the fortunate who brings the eye of the 
gods, who leads the white and lovely steeds (of the 
sun), the Dawn, was seen revealed by her rays, with 
brilliant treasures following every one. 

4. ^^Thou ar^. a blessing where thou art near. Drive 
far away the unfriendly ; make the pasture wide ; give 
us safety! Scatter the enemy, bring riches! Baise up 
wealth to the worshiper, thou mighty Dawn.''* 

This vision of the dawn personified as a pure and 
lovely woman is fair enough to atone for many a sin 
against rhythm and measure. Wearing her garments of 
silver and tinted pearl, she comes leading the white 
steeds of the sun. With her fair brow flushed with 
the gold and crimson light of the morning, she appears 
as the 'Header of the days,'' and marshals her host in 
golden splendor before the sons of men. Wearing the 
hallowed crown of maternity, she becomes in Sanskrit 
poetry " the mother of the mornings," and the infant 
days begin the journey of life amidst the tinted 
clouds of rose and amber that float around the morning 

The Eig-veda is a book of startling contrasts. 
Amidst coarse bacchanalian songs we find such poetic 
gems as ^' The Golden Child," the eloquent pleas to 
Varuna and Agni, and this Vedic vision of the morn* 
ing, with many others of equal beauty. 

1 R.-V., 7, 77, Muller's trana. 

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THE mythology of India is as fascinating as that 
of Greece. The storm-swept peaks of her Hima- 
layas are grander than the heights of Olympus, and 
the golden eagle that floats on burnished wing beneath 
her solemn sky is dearer to the hearts of her peo- 
ple than was the imperial bird of Jove to the dwell- 
ers by the :^gean sea. 

India is the home of the beryl and the amethyst; 
her sunlight flashes in her diamonds, and her moon- 
light gleams amidst her pearls. Hence, her dreamy 
sons have invested the heavens of their gods with the 
splendor of her gems and the fragrance of her roses. 
Their loveliest flowers are said to bloom only in Para- 
dise, and Vishnu sits upon a throne of lotus blossoms, 
while the pillars of Indra^s heaven are enwreathed with 
rose-colored flowers.* 

The many striking similarities between the gods of 
the Hindu and Grecian mythology suggest the common 

1 The Camalata or Love's Creeper. 

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origin of these early myths. It is a well-attested his- 
toric fact that in the eariy days of the Aryan races 
they dwelt together in a common country. The va- 
rious tribes which left this central home to settle in 
different parts of the world carried with them a lan- 
guage which was the stock of their later tongues/ and 
also a common mythology. In India, Greece, Persia, 
and even in Northern Europe, the similarities between 
the various myths are so striking that they continu- 
ally remind the reader of the common origin of the 
Aryan nations. The character of Indra, especially, so 
strongly resembles that of Jove that the similarity 
cannot be considered accidental. 

In the earliest Vedic hymns there appears to be no 
regular system either of religion or mythology. The 
worship which they prescribe is generally of a domes- 
tic nature, consisting of oblations to fire, prayers to 
the god of fire, of the firmament, of the winds, of the 
seasons, or to the sun and the moon. The Brahman 
who offers the sacrifice, or the priest who offers it for 
those who are not Brahmaiis, invites these deities to 
be present and accept the offering, which often con- 
sists of melted butter or the juice of the soma. In 
return for these gifts the gods are supplicated to con- 
fer life, wealth, and prosperity upon the worshiper. 
The myths exhibit no settled genealogy, the same name 
being sometimes used as an adjective, and sometimes 
as a noun. The same goddess is addressed in one hymn 
as the mother, in another as the wife. The brother is 

1 Says Max Miiller, " English, together with all the Teutonic dialects of the 
Continent, belongs to that large family of speech which comprises besides 
the Teutonic, the Latin, Greek, Slavonic, Celtic, and the Oriental languages 
of India and Persia." {See Chips, Vol. II., p. 221.) 

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spoken of now as husband and again as son^ while 
each god in his turn is supplicated and praised as 
superior to all the others. 

The most prominent and sacred deities of the early 
Hindus are Agni, Surya, Indra, Varuna, Yama, Ushas, 
and Maruts. 


the god of fire, is addressed as the supreme god who 
created all things; he is represented by the light of 
the sun, the flashing lightning, and the clear flame of 
the domestic hearthstone. He is the guardian of the 
home, the minister of the sacrifice, and comprehends 
within himself a multitude of other deities, as the cir- 
cumference of a wheel embraces its spokes. He is one 
of the eight guardians of the world, his special prov- 
ince being the southeast quarter. 

As the protector of mankind and the guardian of 
the home, his presence is invoked at the nuptial cere- 
mony, and indeed upon all solemn domestic occasions. 

From his body^ issue seven streams of glory, and in 
his right hand he holds a spear, while a tongue of 
forked fire issues from his mouth. As a symbol of 
social union and the guardian of the domestic hearth- 
stone, his mission is almost identical with that of the 
Grecian goddess Hestia, who was the daughter of Sat- 
urn and Khea. In the Prytaneum of every Grecian 
city stood the hearth on which the sacred fire flamed, 
and where the offerings were made to Hestia. In like 

iHe is usually described as having two faces, three legs and seven 
arms, and riding upon a sheep. But he is sometimes represented as a 
corpulent man of ruddy complexion, with eyes, eyebrows, and hair of a 
tawny color, and appears riding on a goa,t.^3ee Garrett's das. Die. Ind., 
page 16. 

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manner the sacred fire was kept alive in every Hindu 
home, and oblations of butter and rice were offered to 
the god of the flames. It will also be remembered that 
the early Romans worshiped at the shrine of Vesta, 
who like the Greek Hestia presided over the public and 
private hearths. A sacred fire, watched over by six vir- 
gin priestesses called Vestals, burned in her temple at 
Home, and upon the continual preservation of this fire 
the safety of the city depended. If it went out it must 
be lighted only from the sun, the great fountain of 
light. Among the Hindus, Agni is invoked as father, 
mother, brother, and son. He presides at the marriage 
service, receives the offerings upon the domestic altar, 
and at the death of his worshipers, takes their bodies 
to his bosom, and bears the ^^ unborn part^* away to 
the unseen world. 


1. " Agni, accept this log which I am about to offer 
thee, accept this my service, listen well to these my 

2. ^^With this log, Agni, may we worship thee, 
thou son of strength, conqueror of horses ; and with 
this hymn, thou high born. 

3. ^'May we thy servants serve thee with songs, 
granter of riches, thou who lovest songs and delight- 
est in riches. 

4. ^^Thou Lord of wealth and giver of wealth, be 
thou wise and powerful, drive away from us the ene- 

5. ^^He gives us rain from heaven. He gives us in- 
vincible strength, he gives food a thousand-fold. 

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6. '^Youngest of the gods, their messenger, their 
invoker most deserving of worship, come at our praise 
to him who worships thee and longs for thy help. 

7. ^^Por thou, sage, goest wisely between these 
two creations (heaven and earth, gods and men) like 
a friendly messenger between two hamlets. 

8. ^^Thou art wise, and thou hast been pleased; 
perform, thou intelligent Agni, the sacrifice without 


One of the first objects to attradt the Vedic wor- 
shiper was the god of day. He was adored under 
various names, being addressed sometimes as Arvat, or 
even Varuna, and again as Aditya or Mitra. Coming 
out of the chambers of the east, with their draperies of 
scarlet and purple, this monarch of the day received 
the early oblation of his worshipers. As his golden 
chariot swept across the heavens they fancied they saw 
the milk-white steeds that drew the car of the king. 
At evening as he rolled away in a sea of splendor, 
leaving his crimson mantle upon the mountain peaks, 
the devotee knelt again to receive his parting blessing. 
After a time, when the pearly tints of morning again 
announced his coming, he was hailed with joyous songs: 


1. "The wonderful host of rays has risen; the eye 
of Mitra, Varuna, and Agni the sun, the soul of all 
that moves or is immovable, has filled (with his glory) 
the heaven, the earth, and the firmament. 

1 B.-V., »-6, Muller'8 trans. 

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2. ^'The sun follows the divine and brilliant Ushas 
as a man follows a young and elegant woman, at which 
season pious men perform the ceremonies established 
for ages, worshiping the auspicious sun for the sake of 
good reward. 

3. ^'The auspicious, swift horses of the sun, well- 
limbed, road-traversing, who merit to be pleased with 
praise, reverenced by us, have ascended to the summits 
of the sky, and quickly circumambulate earth and 

4. ^' Such is the divinity, such is the majesty of the 
sun that, when he has set, he has withdrawn (into 
himself) the diffused (light which had been shed) 
upon the unfinished task. When he has unyoked his 
coursers from the car, then night extends the veiling 
darkness over all. 

5. " The sun in the sight of Mitra and Varuna dis- 
plays his form (of brightness) in the middle of the 
heavens, and his rays extend, on one hand, his infinite 
and brilliant power, or on the other (by their depart- 
ure), bring on the blackness of night. 

6. '' This day, gods, with the rising of the sun, 
deliver us from heinous sin ! and may Mitra, Varuna, 
Aditya, ocean, earth, and heaven, be favorable to this our 
prayer. ^'^ 


Varuna is derived from the root Var (to cover). 
In the Veda it is used as a name for the firmament, 
but only in connection with the night, being opposed 

1R.-V., Vol. I., page 304, Wilson's trans. 

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to Mitra (the day). It will be remembered that 
Hesiod uses the name of Uranos for the sky, and it is 
repeatedly said that Uranos, or Ouranos, covers every- 
thing, and that when he brings the night he is 
stretched out everywhere embracing the earth. But 
the Indian Varuna is the god of the sky, as well as 
the sky itself. It is said that "Varuna stemmed as- 
under the wide firmaments ; he lifted on high the 
bright and glorious heaven; he stretched out apart the 
starry sky and the earth. ^^* Like the other gods, 
Varuna is hymned as the Supreme Being : 

" Thou art lord of all, of heaven and earth ; thou 
art the king of all, of those who are gods and of those 
who are men.^* 

He dwells in all worlds as their sovereign ; he made 
the sun to shine in the firmament, and the moaning 
winds are but his breath. He formed the channels of 
the rivers which flow by his command into the sea 
which they can never fill. He knows the pathway of 
the birds through the blue ether, and the trackless 
course of the ships upon the wide ocean. He witnesses 
the truth or falsehood of men, and nothing escapes his 
countless eyes. 

The two oceans ( aerial and terrestrial ) are Varuna's 
stomachs, and the stars of night are his all-seeing eyes. 

Varuna is not only the Uranos, or Ouranos, of the 
Greeks, but he is their Neptune as well, being the 
"god of the raging main^* and "monarch of the 
deep.^^ It was Varuna who supplied the sage Ricika 

1R.-V., 7, 861, Muller's trans. 

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with a thousand fleet horses^ an allusion which is sug- 
gestive of the production of the horse by Neptune in 
his fabled contest with Minerva for the right of nam- 
ing the city of Athens. Indeed, the horse in Greek 
mythology was sacred to Neptune and the rivers, and 
Homer represents the ^* monarch of the watery main^' 
as whirling over the crystal chambers of the deep in 
his chariot drawn by *^ brass-hoofed steeds," while 

^*The parting waves before his coursers fly. 
The wondering waters leave his axle dry." 

Even so Varuna rides upon the waters or hides in 
caves beneath a rocky strand ; but he also fills the 
halls of night with his presence and draws near to his 
worshiper in the cooling touch of evening, and when 
the veil of darkness covers them he comes to the hearts 
of men with the blessed peace and calm of evening 


Is the king of death and the judge of the dead.' He 
is the Pluto of Hindu mythology, and like him he is 
the lord of the world from whose dominion there is 
no return. The regions of Pluto were guarded by the 
three-headed dog Cerberus,* who watched at the en- 
trance, but Yama has two terrible dogs of the ^^four- 

1 There is a diversity of expression among classic authors in relation to 
the famous dog of hades. The first mention of him is by Hesiod, who 
describes the furious creature as having fifty heads. Sophocles, however, 
speaks of him as the three-headed dog of Pluto, and the Latin poets 
generaUy agree with this author. Horace, however, calls the dog hundred- 
headed. ChampoUion traces a strong analogy between the Egyptian and 
Grecian mythology in relation to the dog of ha.des.—(3ee Anthon'a Claa. 

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eyed tawny breed of Sarama/' This ^* King of Death '^ 
is the first of men who died, and he guides the spirits 
of other men to their destination in heaven or hell. In 
the later mythology he is represented as the judge of 
the dead, but not in the Vedas. The region over which 
Pluto presides is represented in the Iliad and in 
Hesiod's Theogony as being within the earth, while in 
the Odyssey it is placed in the dark region beyond the 
stream of ocean.* But Yama himself dwells in celestial 
light, and in one place he is represented as taking 
part with other gods in a festive scene beneath a tree. 
The following fine poetic tribute is paid to the 
King of Death in the Eig-veda: 


^^To Yama, mighty king, be gifts and homage paid. 
He was the first of men that died ; the first to brave 
Death's rapid rushing stream, the first to point the 

To heaven, and welcome others to that bright abode. 
No power can rob us of the home thus won by thee; 
Oh king, we come! the bom must die, must tread the 

That thou hast trod — ^the path by which each race of 

In long succession, and our fathers too, have passed. 
Soul of the dead ! depart ; fear not to take the road — 
The ancient road — by which thy ancestors have gone; 
Ascend to meet the god — to meet thy happy fathers. 
Who dwell in bliss with him. Fear not to pass the 

guards — 

lOd. 10, 508. 

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The four-eyed brindled dogs — that watch for the de- 
Betam unto thy home, soul ! Thy sin and shame 
Leave thou behind on earth; assume a shining form — 
Thy ancient shape— refined and from all taint set 


Perhaps the most beautiful and poetic of all the 
Vedic deities is Ushas, the dawn. This radiant god- 
dess is the Aurora, or Eos, of the Greeks. 

" Now fair Aurora lifts her golden ray. 
And all the ruddy Orient flames with day.^^ 

Even so does the Hindu goddess light up the east- 
em sky with the tints of opal and morning gray She 
lives in their poetry as a beautiful woman pursued by 
her devoted lover, the sun, who at length overwhelms 
her with his ardent kisses. She is borne onward 
through the sky in a gleaming chariot drawn by ruddy 
horses, dispelling darkness, waking the birds, and illum- 
ining the world. Sometimes she is hymned as a beau- 
tiful maiden, sometimes adored as a wife and mother 
(see page 27); sometimes she is pictured as deso- 
late and deserted by the sun, who disappears in the 
western skies, leaving only the clouds of crimson and 
gold to comfort his dying bride. But she is always 
young, for she is born every morning with the crown 
of immortal youth. Like Aurora, she wears a golden 
robe and comes out of her cloud-curtained palace to 
ascend her triumphal car The gates of the morning 

iWlUiams' trans. 2 Odyssey, Bk. 8, 1. 

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are opened by her rosy fingers, and her fair brow is 
crowned with the morning star. She is addressed as the 
"daughter of the sky/^ the "kinswoman of Varuna/' 
In one passage the moon is said to be born again, 
and ever new to go before Ushas as the herald of the 
day. In the Rig-veda the early morn is saluted thus: 

" Hail, Ushas, daughter of the sky. 

Who, borne upon thy shining car 

By ruddy steeds from realms afar 
And ever lightening, drawest nigh — 
Thou sweetly smilest, goddess fair. 

Disclosing all thy youthful grace. 

Thy bosom fair, thy radiant face. 
And luster of thy golden hair. 

" So shines the fond and winning bride 
Who robes her form in brilliant guise. 
And to her lord's admiring eyes 

Displays her charms with conscious pride. 

Or virgin by her mother decked. 
Who, glorying in her beauty, shows 

. In every glance her power; she knows 

All eyes to fix, all hearts subject. 

^^ But closely by the amorous sun 

Pursued and vanquished in the race. 
Thou soon art locked in his embrace. 

And with him blendest into one. 

Fair Ushas! though through years untold 
Thou hast lived on, yet thou art born 
Anew on each succeeding mom. 

And so thou art both young and old/'* 

iDr. Muir*s trans. 

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Mamts or Budras is the god, or, rather, the gods, 
of wind and storm, to whom the people prayed for 
protection for themselves, and for the destruction of 
their enemies. They were addressed as "shakers of 
the earth," and besought to tear in pieces whatever 
fiends might be aroused to attack the people. They 
dash through the heavens in chariots drawn by dap- 
pled deer; they are termed "worshipful and wise," 
and implored to come with their whole help "as 
quickly as lightnings come after rain." Rudra was 
afterwards the god of destruction — Siva, the world 

The following hymn in praise of the storm gods is 
one of the most vivid conceptions of Hindu poetry 
that can be found upon the pages of the Rig-veda. It 
is radiant with life and strength through all its elo- 
quent periods : 


1. ''The active, the strong, the singers, the never 
flinching, the immovable, the wild, the most beloved 
and most manly, they have shown themselves with 
their glittering ornaments, a few only like the heavens 
with the stars. 

2. "When you see your way through the clefts, 
you are like birds, Maruts, on whatever road it be. 
The clouds drop (rain) on your chariots everywhere, 
pour out the honey like fat for him who praises you. 

3. " At their ravings the earth shakes as if broken, 
when on the (heavenly) paths they harness their deer 
for victory. They the sportive, the roaring, with 

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bright spears, the shakers of the clouds, have them- 
selves praised their greatness. 

4. ^^That youthful company (of the Maruts) with 
their spotted horses, moves by itself, hence it exercises 
lordship and is invested with powers. . . . Therefore 
thou the strong hast, and thou wilt cherish this prayer. 

5. '^ We speak after the kind of our old father ; our 
tongue goes forth at the sight of the soma; when the 
shouting Maruts had joined Indra in the work, then 
only they received sacrificial honors. 

6. " For their glory these well-equipped Maruts ob- 
tained splendors ; they obtained rays and men to praise 
them; nay, these well-armed, nimble, and fearless be- 
ings found the beloved home of the Maruts. On your 
bodies there are daggers for beauty; may they stir up 
our minds as they stir up the forests. 

7. ^^For your sake, well-born Maruts, you who 
are full of vigor, they have shaken the stone for dis- 
tilling soma. Days went round you and came back, 
Maruts, back to this prayer, and to this sacred 
rite — ^the Gotamas making prayer with songs have 
pushed up the lid of the well (the cloud) to drink. 

8. "No such hymn was ever known as this which 
Gotama sounded for you, Maruts, when he saw you 
on golden wheels — wild boars, rushing about with iron 
tusks. This refreshing draught of soma rushes toward 
you like the voice of a suppliant — it rushes freely 
from our hands, as these libations are wont to do.''* 

The hymns of the Veda are not all of them hymns 
of praise. The denunciations of their priests were 

iR.-Vm Vol. I., pp. 148-153, MuUer's trans. 

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poured out upon the people, and even upon each other, 
in the breath of these poets. For instance : 

^^ No, by heayen ! no, by earth ! I do not approve 
of this ; no, by the sacrifice ! No, by these rites ! 
May the mighty mountains crush him ! May the 
priest of Atiydgra perish ! ^' 

^^ Whosoever, Maruts, weans himself above us, or 
scoffs at the prayer (Brahma) which we have made, 
may hot plagues come upon him ; may the sky bum 
up that hater of Brahmans/^ 

^^Did they not call thee Soma, the guardian of 
Brahmans ? Did they not say that thou didst shield 
us against curses ? Why dost thou look on when 
we are scoffed at ? Hurl against the hater of the 
Brahmans the fiery spear/^^ 

And again, ^^ Indra and Soma, bum the devils ; de- 
stroy them ; throw them down, ye two bulls, the peo- 
ple that groan in darkness ! Hew down the madmen, 
suffocate them, kill them ; hurl them away, and slay 
the voracious. Indra and Soma, up together against 
the cursing demon ! May he burn and hiss like an 
oblation in the fire ! Put your everlasting hatred 
upon the villain who hates the Brahman, who eats 
flesh, and whose look is abominable. Indra and Soma, 
hurl the evil-doer into the pit, even into unfathomable 
darkness ! May your strength be full of wrath to hold 
out that no one may come out again."* 

The numerous deities are fully described and mul- 
tiplied to a certain extent, even in the early songs ; 

1 B.-V., VI., 52. 2 Miiller's trans. 

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for instance, instead of the one god of storms, we have 
many. Yet, although hymns and prayers to the various 
gods abound in the Vedas, it is declared in some texts 
that there are but three deities — ^the air, the sun, and 
fire — and their places are the earth, the middle region 
(between heaven and earth), and heaven. There are 
also repeated texts which claim that there is but one 
deity — the supreme spirit. ^^ He who from the univer- 
sal world proceeds, who is Lord of the earth, and 
whose work is the universe, is the Supreme Being. '^* 

It is fortunate that our translators have not under- 
taken the task of reconciling the Vedas with them- 
selves. They have simply tried to give us a faithful 
reproduction of these books, with all their contradic- 
tions and inconsisterfcies. Although the pages of the 
Rig-veda abound with incongruities and absurdities, 
they are free from the grosser immoralities which pol- 
lute the later literature of the Brahmans. There is 
no account in the Rig-veda of such characters as Siva 
and Kali ; no trace of the miraculous stories concern- 
ing Vishnu. These, with the descriptions of the licen- 
tious Krishna, were reserved for the later fables of that 
romantic clime. 


This was, perhaps, the most popular of all the early 
Vedic deities. Like Agni, his brother, he is hymned 
as the Supreme Being, superior to all the other gods 
of the pantheon. Though sometimes called the sun- 
light, he is looked upon as the watery atmosphere, 
ever seeking to dispense his dewy treasures (indu), and 

1 Religion of HIn., Vol. H., p. 51. 

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constantly opposed by a spirit of evil called Vjitra. 
He is also styled the ^^thunder-bearer," or god of bat- 
tles. He was the Hindu ideal of a hero, who was 
always fighting and was never conquered. He was the 
Jove of early Indian mythology, and the favorite deity 
of a people who were fighting for new homes and 
rich herds of cattle. Hence the great number of 
prayers and hymns addressed to him. He is repre- 
sented as "the king of heaven,'^ as "the showerer of 
blessings, '^ and as "the thunderer.^^ Many passages 
suggest the scene upon Olympus 

" Where far apart the Thunderer fills his throne. 
O'er all the gods superior and alone.'' 

Like Jove, he has supreme control of the elements ; 
he rides upon the storm cloud and flashes his light- 
nings across the darkened sky. He is the archer who 
uses the rainbow as his weapon, whose quiver is filled 
with lightnings, while his wrath is like that of the 
Grecian god to whose will Vulcan counsels submis- 

" Lest roused to rage he shake the bless'd abodes. 
Launch the red lightning and dethrone the gods." 

Indra, the wielder of the thunderbolt, may also be 
compared to the German Donar, the Saxon Thunar, 
and the Thor of the ancient Norseman. 

Indra is the king of the Devas, or millions of ce- 
lestials who belong especially to his own Paradise. He 
is represented with four arms and hands, with two of 
which he holds a lance, while a third carries a thun- 

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derbolt. His reign is to continue one hundred years 
of the gods,, after which another may, by great sacri- 
fices, usurp his position. One hundred successful A^ya- 
medhas, or horse sacrifices, are said to qualify the 
devotee for becoming the successor of Indra, therefore 
the god usually sends one of his celestial atten- 
dants to steal away the horse before the sacrifice can 
be performed. 

The reign of this popular deity extends from the 
early Vedic period down to the Puranic age, when his 
star declines before the supremacy of more modern gods. 
Still, he is a chieftain among inferior deities and is 
always at war with the giants and demons, by whom he 
was at one time deposed. Indra^s partiality for the 
intoxicating draught has been discussed in the previous 
chapter, and in this, too, he resembles the Grecian 
Jove, as well as Bacchus. It will be remembered that 
in the First Book of the Iliad Vulcan stayed the quar- 
rel between Jove and his angry queen by counseling his 
^^ goddess mother'^ to submit to the imperial will, and 

^^ Rising with a bound 
The double bowl with sparkling nectar crowned, ^^ 

he passed to all the deities in the assembled conclave, 
and they drank freely of its contents, while 

" Vulcan with awkward grace his office plies. 
And unextinguished laughter shakes the skies. '^ 

The frequent offerings of the intoxicating beverage 
made to Indra in the Vedic age were accompanied by 
the chanting of hymns urging him to drink, that he 

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might become '* invigorated '' and able to cope with his 
enemies. These copious offerings of soma so frequently 
made to the ''king of heaven^' suggest that classic 
scene where the Greek and Trojan powers were feast- 
ing through the night, the troops of Greece upon the 
field, and those of Troy within her towers : 

*' But Jove adverse, the signs of wrath displayed. 
And shot red lightnings through the gloomy shade. 
Humbled they stood, pale horror seized on all. 
While the deep thunder shook the aerial hall. 
Each poured to Jove before the bowl was crowned. 
And large libations drenched the thirsty ground." 

The heroes of northern mythology also share in this 
weakness of the Indian and Grecian deities. Odin, the 
chieftain of the North and the father of Thor, lived 
exclusively upon wine or beer, giving the food which 
was set before him to the two wolves that lay at his 

Indra is represented as swiftly obeying the summons 
of his worshipers when the soma is poured out in floods 
for the gratification of his palate and the exhilaration 
of his whole being. It is claimed that he receives 
strength from this beverage to such an extent that he 
not only vanquishes his foes, but supports the earth 
and sky. Heaven and earth tremble with fear at the 
crash of his thunder ; his enemies are pierced and 
shattered by his arrows of lightning, and the waters 
descend in torrents to the earth, filling the rivers which 
rush in rolling floods toward the sea. 

The following hymn to Indra is a sample of the 
songs which are chanted in his praise : 

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''Let no one, not even those who worship thee, 
delay thee far from us ! Even from afar come to our 
feast ! Or, if thou art here, listen to us. For these 
here who make prayers to thee sit together near the 
libation, like flies round the honey. The worshipers 
anxious for wealth have placed their desire upon In- 
dra, as we put our foot upon a chariot. Desirous of 
riches, I call him who holds the thunderbolt with 
his arm, and who is a good giver, like as a son calls 
his father. These libations of soma mixed with milk 
have been prepared for Indra. Thou, armed with the 
thunderbolt, come with the steeds and drink of them 
for thy delight — come to the house . 

*'He who prepares for thee, Vritra killer, deep 
libations and pours them out before thee, that hero 
thrives with Indra, never scorned of men. 

'^ Offer soma to the drinker of soma — to Indra, the 
lord of the thunderbolt ; roast roasts ; make him to 
protect us. Indra, the giver, is a blessing to him who 
gives oblations. 

''Do not grudge, ye givers of soma; give strength 
to the great god, make him to give wealth. He who 
alone preserves, conquers, abides, and flourishes; the 
gods are not to be trifled with. 

"No one surrounds the chariot of the liberal wor- 
shiper, no one stops it. He whom Indra protects and 
the Maruts, he will come with stables full of cattle. 

"A mortal does not get riches by scant praise — ^no 
wealth comes to the grudger. 

" The strong man it is, mighty ! who in the day 

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of battle is a precious gift to thee like as to me. 
We call to thee, hero, like cows that have not been 
milked ; we praise thee as ruler of all that moYes, 
Indra — as ruler of all that is immovable. 

*^ There is no one like thee in heaven or earth; 
lie is not now and will not be bom. mighty In- 
dra I we call upon thee as we go fighting for cows 
and horses. Let not evil-disposed wretches and un- 
hallowed tread us down. Through thy help, hero, 
let us step over the rushing eternal waters/^* 

Food is provided for the horses of Indra by the 
worshiper who pours out libations of soma to the mas- 
ter, for ^^the king of heaven'^ is repeatedly represented 
as driving furiously through the sky in his chariot 
drawn by tawny steeds. So in Book Eighth of the Hiad 
the sire of the gods 

'^ Called his coursers, and his chariot took. 
The steadfast firmament beneath them shook; 
Eapt by the ethereal steeds the chariot roll'd. 
Brass were their hoofs, their curling manes of gold.^' 

His fleet-footed horses rush along between the ex- 
tended earth and sky until they reach the top of Mount 
Ida, when 

^^From his radiant car the sacred sire 
Of gods and men released the steeds of fire.'* 

These numerous and startling coincidences between 
the early Vedic deities and the gods of Greece point 

1 R.-v., II., 32, Wilson's trans. 

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to the common origin of these Aryan myths, espe- 
cially in view of the fact that the Iliad itself has been 
traced by Grote and Buckley to 776 B. C. Herodo- 
tus gives still earlier dates, for he places Homer with 
Hesiod, 400 years before his own time. The figures 
given by Herodotus (who wrote 444 B. C.) are cor- 
roborated by the arguments of Wood^ and Haller,* and 
also of Mitford, who makes a strong argument for the 
historic value of Homer's works.' These authorities 
place Homer about the middle of the ninth century 
B. C, while the Arundelian marbles assign him to 907 
B. C. When we consider that the myths of Greece 
existed long before her epic poems, we must refer them 
back almost to the early songs of the Veda. 

The mythology of Northern Europe also bears un- 
mistakable evidence of having been brought from the 
common home of the Aryan race, although it has been 
developed in harmony with the temperament of the 
Northern people. Even amidst these rugged rocks and 
icebergs we find almost a counterpart of Indra and of 
Jove in the descriptions of the gigantic Thor, before 
whom the mountains burst and the earth blazed. 
Sleipnir, the fleet-footed horse of Odin, compares favor- 
ably with the ^Hawny steeds'' of Indra, or the flying 
coursers of Jove. If Neptune's '^ brass-hoof 'd steeds" 

^^ Fleet as the winds and deck'd with golden manes," 

the famous horse of the Northern god cleared the gates 

1 Essay on the Original Genius of Homer. 

2 Heyne, Bxcurs. 4 ad. II., 24. 3 History of Greece, pp. 81 and 139. 


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of HeP at a single bound, while his speed rivaled that 
of the winds, and the golden bridge of Gyoll trembled 
more beneath his tread than when five bands of dead 
men rode over its solemn arches. Ty, or Tyr, the son 
of Odin, is the god of war — the Mai's of Northern Eu- 
rope — who rides fearlessly into the thickest of the fight. 
Gerd, the beautiful maiden with shining arms, resisting 
the advances of Frey, the god of rain and sunshine, 
represents Ushas, the fair goddess of the morning, flee- 
ing from the kisses of the sun. (Egir is the storm god 
of the ocean — the Neptune of the Northern seas-*-bef ore 
whose trident the angry billows roll upon the helpless 

Loki, the god of fire, bears to the Northmen the 
relation that Agni holds to India. His servants are 
the subterranean forces which, even though chained in 
darkness, throw from throbbing mountains their burn- 
ing breath and liquid fires. 

These are only a few of the many parallels which 
might be cited. The Persian myths could also be 
shown to belong to the same common stock; but the 
illustrations already given are sufficient to prove that it 
was in the early days of the Aryan race, when the 
people dwelt in a common home and used a common 
language, that their myths were either born from the 
realms of fancy or builded upon the fragments of his- 

1 Hel Is derived from at helja, signifying to hide. It is used in the Edda 
to denote the kingdom of death, and all' who died, whether saints or 
sinners, hastened to this dark region, or concealed place— the world of 
the tomb. It is said that Hermod, or Herm6dhr, the son of Odin, rode 
the fleet horse Sleipnir for nine days and nights before he came to the 
barred gates of Hel, hoping to recover his brother Balder. 

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FROM the foregoing examination of the early Vedic 
deities it has been seen that Vedism was little 
more than reverent love for the forces of nature, and 
a desire to propitiate them in order to receive temporal 
blessings at their hands. No one can examine the 
Vedic hymns without being struck with the great num- 
ber of prayers offered for cattle and horses, for rain 
and abundant food, as well as for vengeance upon 
enemies. The gods were at first few in number and 
simple in form, but these early deities were soon multi- 
plied a thousand-fold, and at length the Hindu pan- 
theoji contained three hundred and thirty millions of 
gods. Out of this vast number it is impossible to do 
more than glance at the most prominent characters of 
Indian mythology. Strong points of analogy might 
also be shown between the Grecian deities and the later 
forms of Hindu myth. For instance, the goddess 
Durga, the wife of §iva, may be said to represent Juno, 
the imperious queen of Jove. Sri might also be com- 
pared with the Latin Ceres — 


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^'As when on Ceres* sacred floor, the swain 
Spreads the wide fan to clean the golden grain, 
And the light chaff before the breezes borne. 
Ascends in clouds from off the heapy corn/** 

SarasYati, the goddess of speech and of the arts, rep- 
resents Minerva, who was born from the head of Jove, 
and who taught Epeus to frame the wooden horse 
which caused the downfall of Troy. Kama, the god of 
love, is the Cupid of the Hindus, while Rati, his wife, 
may be compared to ''the silver-footed dame** of the 
Iliad. Karttikeya, the god of war, was, like Mars, 

"With slaughter red, and raging round the field.** 

Narada was the inventor of the lute in Indian my- 
thology, while Mercury of the Greeks invented the lyre. 
Vayu, the god of the wind, represents the Grecian 
ijlolus, who tied up all the winds (except Zephyrus) in 
a bag of ox-hide for the benefit of Ulysses, that he 
might have a favorable passage homeward. Ganeia, who 
presided over the beginning of all undertakings, repre- 
sents Janus, the two-faced deity of the Latins, who was 
invoked at ''the commencement of campaigns.** 


are the most popular deities in modern times. In 
the Middle Ages bitter rivalries sprang up between the 
advocates of the various theological systems, the Puranas 
being divided in their allegiance to these gods. But 
at the present time a more tolerant spirit prevails, and 
the names of Brahma Vishnu, and Siva, are by many 

1 niad, v., 500. 

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regarded merely as manifestations of one Supreme Be- 
ing. Brahma is confessedly the most difficult deity in 
the Hindu pantheon to locate intelligently. The dif- 
ficulty arises from the fact that the word brahman 
originally meant force, will, or wish ; it was imper- 
sonal, but came to be considered as the creative force 
in the universe, even before it was endowed with per- 
sonality, and while it existed only in a neuter form. 
Brahman (neuter) in the sense of a creative principle 
does not occur in the Rig-veda. It does occur, however, 
in the later productions, the earliest of which is the 
Atharva-veda. In the Brahmanas this Brahman is 
called *^the first-born, the self-existing, the best of 
the gods,^' etc. The word Brahmana is derived from 
Brahman, which is afterward developed into a per- 
sonal deity. In Manu (whose code dates from about 
500 B. C.) Brahman is represented as evolving his 
essence in the form of Brahma, the creator. In one 
of the Upanishads there is an account of the creation 
of all things by this deity, which will be examined in 
a future chapter, under the head of Cosmogony. The 
word Brahma is the nominative case, of the neuter 
Brahman. When Brahma decided to create the universe 
he assumed the quality of activity and became a male 
deity, Brahma. He also willed to invest himself with 
preserving power, and thus became Vishnu, the pre- 
server; then wishing to obtain the destructive power, 
he became also Siva, the destroyer. This doctrine 
of the triple development of the previously neuter 
form does not occur, however, until we reach the 
Brahmanized version of the Indian Epics. These three 
manifestations of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva exhibit 

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the principal forms of Hinduism as expressed in the 
epic poems, and stronger still in the later Puranas. ^ 
And yet Brahma, who in his later form is the creator 
of all things, is said to have been born in the lotus 
blossom that sprang from Vishnu, and is described as 
having four faces. In the Vishnu-purana, which dates 
from about the eleventh century of the Christian era, 
Brahma is said to live one hundred years, each day 
of which consists of 4,320,000,000 of the years of 
mortals. During the nights of Brahma the universe 
ceases to exist, but it is reproduced at the beginning 
of the next day. Like other prominent gods of the 
Hindus, he is repeatedly praised as the Supreme Being 
and the creator of all the othere. But the myth grew 
slowly, for in the Maha-bharata, a work hundreds of 
years subsequent to the Atharva-veda, Maha-deva is 
represented as the creator of Brahma. ^^From his right 
side he produced Brahma, the originator of worlds ; 
from his left side, Vishnu, the preserver of the universe, 
and when the end of the age had arrived the mighty 
god created Rudra" (afterward ^iva).' 


There is mention of a god Vishnu in the Rig-veda, 
but he is there spoken of as a manifestation of solar 
energy, or rather as a form of the sun. He is repre- 
sented as stepping over the heavens in three paces, sym- 
bolizing the sun's rising, his passage across the meri- 
dian, and his setting. Afterwards Vishnu takes his 
place among the twelve Adityas, or twelve phases of 
the sun during the twelve months of the year. Later, 

ilnd. Wis., pp. 324-327. ^Muir's Sans. Texts, pp. 156-162. 

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in the Brahmanas, he is identified with sacrifice. It 
was the Vedic Vishnu who afterward became the world 
preserver, while Rudra (connected with Indra and the 
Maruts), the god of tempests^ became the world dis- 
solver, §iva. There is no trace of Vishnu in the In- 
stitutes of Manu, unless the allusions to inferior gods 
may apply to him. In the Maha-bharata he is some- 
times regarded as the most exalted deity, and again 
he is represented as paying homage to Siva and recog- 
nizing the superiority of that deity over himself. He 
is quite prominent in the Ramayana, but it is in the 
Puranas that the most wonderful exploits and the 
greatest glory are assigned to him. From the begin- 
ning of the Christian era to the Puranas there were 
from six to eight centuries, during which Vishnu was 
growing in importance, till in the 11th century A. D. 
he was glorified in the most extravagant terms in the 
voluminous Vishnu-purana. The writer of this work 
exhausts the resources of language in extolling the deity 
who has reached the zenith of his popularity only in 
mediaeval times. No exploit is too great, no descrip- 
tions too wild, no mythology too fabulous to be applied 
to the god who is here claimed to be the conqueror 
of Indra and the creator of Brahma. He is alluded 
to in various forms in these later books (the Puranas), 
as it is claimed that he had ten avatars, or incarna- 

The doctrine of the avatars of Vishnu is not fully 
developed until we come down to the Puranas, about 
the middle of the Christian era. It is true that the 
legends of the fish, the boar, and the tortoise are found 
in the Satapatha-brahmana, but it is only in the 

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much later Puranas that they are described as incarna- 
tions of Vishnu.' 

1. Matsya, or fish,'* in which character he saved 
the seventh man, the progenitor of the human race, 
from the deluge. (This story is graphically told in 
the Satapatha-brahmana, and is repeated in the Maha- 

2. KtJRMA, the tortoise. In this form he descended 
to aid in recovering certain valuable articles lost in 
the deluge. 

3. Varaha, the boar. Having assumed this form, 
he descended to deliver the world from the power of 
the golden-eyed demon, who had seized it and car- 
ried it down to the depths of the sea. Vishnu as a 
boar dived into the abyss, and after a contest of a 
thousand years he slew the monster and raised the 
earth. In other legends the universe is represented as 
a mass of water, and the earth, being submerged, was 
upheaved by the tusks of the divine boar. **It is a 
noticeable fact,'* says Sir Monier Williams, ^^that the 
first three incarnations of Vishnu are all connected 
with the tradition of a universal deluge. '* 

4. Nara-sinha, the man lion. He assumed this 
shape to deliver the world from the tyranny of a 
demon, who had obtained from Brahma the promise 
that he should not be slain either by a god, a man, 
or an animal. (These four incarnations are said to 

1 Trans. Vic. Inst, Vol. XXI., p. 167. 

2 The first incarnation of this god as a fish Is suggestiye of Janus, the 
two-faced deity of Roman mythology, who, with his wife and his sister 
Camasane is often represented as half fish and half human. Compare 
also the avatar as a fish with the Babylonian legend of Oannes and the 
Syrian goddess Atergatis, who was worshiped at Hierapolis, having a 
woman's figure, the lower part of which was a fish. 

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have taken place in the Satya, or first age of the 

5. Vamana, the dwarf, which character he assumed 
to deprive the demon Bali of the dominion of the 
three worlds. Vishnu presented himself as a very di-^ 
minutive man, and solicited as much land as he could 
step over in three paces. When this request was 
granted he strided over heaven and earth, but in 
compassion to the demon he left hell in his posses- 

6. Parasu-rama, Rama with the ax ; in this char- 
acter Vishnu is said to have cleared the earth twenty- 
one times of the Kshatriya, or military class. 

7. Rama-6andra, hero of the epic poem Ramayana. 

8. Krishna, the dark god, which form he assumes 
at the end of the Davapara, or third age of the world. 
Krishna was the younger brother of Bala-rama, ^^the 
strong Rama," who has sometimes been called the 
eighth avatar of Vishnu. But in later times Krishna 
appears to have supplanted his brother as the eighth 
incarnation.* As Krishna worship is nowhere mentioned 
in the early Vedic writings, this god will be treated in 
connection with the later forms of Hindu literature, 
where he chronologically belongs.* 

9. Buddha. According to the Brahmans, Vishnu 
assumed this form to delude the demons into neglect- 
ing the worship of the gods, and thus exposing them- 
selves to destruction. 

It appears that Buddha was canonized, so to speak, 
by receiving the rank of the ninth avatar of Vishnu 
after the expulsion of Buddhism as a sect from India. 

1 Trans. Vic. lust., Vol. XXI., p. 177. 2 Chap. 23. 

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10. Kalki, or Kalkin, who is yet to appear at the 
close of the fourth age, when the world has become 
wholly depraved, for the final destruction of the wicked, 
the re-establishment of righteousness upon the earth, the 
renovation of all the earth, and the return to a new age 
of purity. According to some, he will be seen in the sky, 
seated on a white horse, with a drawn sword in his hand, 
blazing like a comet. This last picture — taken in con- 
nection with the well-established fact of the modern char- 
acter of the Puranas — seems to have been drawn from 
Revelation xix: 11 and 15: ^^And I saw heaven opened, 
and behold a white horse, and he that sat upon him was 
called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth 
judge and make war. . . . And out of his mouth goeth 
a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations, 
and he shall rule them with a rod of iron. And he 
treadeth the wine-press of the fierceness and wrath of 
Almighty God.'' 

Some works give twenty-four avatars, and some call 
them numberless, but the generally received mythol- 
ogy accords to Vishnu only the ten which are here 
spoken of. 

Vishnu is represented as riding upon Garucja, a crea- 
ture which is half man and half eagle. This is the king 
of birds and the fearless enemy of the serpent tribe. The 
intrepid Garu(Ja of the Hindus is represented in Persia 
by the Simurgh,^ that ancient bird which has seen the 

1 The golden-pinioned Simurgh is a fabulous bird that is said to live in the 
Caucasian mountains, and Prof. Eastwick supposes that the idea was derived 
from the Jewish tradition of a huge bird mentioned in the Talmud under the 
name of Yukhush. A picture of the Simurgh, which was taken from a Per- 
sian drawing, represents him as flying with an elephant in his beak and 
another in each of his talons. 

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great cycle of seven thousand years twelve times, and 
twelve times beheld an unpeopled earth. He finds a 
parallel in the fabled Anka of Arabia which is said 
to be *^ known in name and unknown in body/' the 
Eorosh of the Zend, and the Kerkes of the Turks. 
The Japanese also have their Kirni, while China rejoices 
in her nondescript dragon, a combination of bird and 

The Hindu Garucja suggests, too, the Griffin of Chiv- 
alry,^ the fabulous monster, half bird and half lion, that 
protected the gold of the Hyperborean regions from the 
one-eyed Arimaspians, and the Phoenix of Egyptian 
fable — the bird of gold and crimson plumage that is 
burned upon her nest of spices every thousand years, 
and as often springs to life from her ashes. To these 
wonderful parallels we might add the ancient bird in 
Scandinavian mythology which sits in the branches 
of Yggdrasil, the great ash tree, which is the most 
sacred place of the gods, and where they daily sit in 

1 In the Second Book of "Paradise Lost" Milton makes a comparison with 
the GriflSn as follows: 

"As when a Gryphon through the wilderness 
With winged course, o'er hill and moory dale, 
Pursues the Arimaspian who by stealth 
Hath from his wakeful custody purloined 
His guarded gold," etc. 

2 The branches of the Yggdrasil spread themselves over the whole world 
and tower far above the heavens. It has three roots, and various theories 
are given as to their exact location ; but according to the prose Edda, the 
first root reaches to the middle of the world ; the second to the frost giantsj 
and the third is constantly gnawed by the great serpent Nidhogg. Under tiie 
first root is the sacred fountain of Urd, where the gods sit in Judgment, and 
a fair hall, from which go forth three maidens, the past, the present, and the 
future. In the branches of the tree sits an eagle that knows many 
things. Between his eyes sits the hawk. The squirrel runs up and down 
the tree and carries bitter messages between the eagle and the serpent, 
while four harts run among the boughs and bite the buds of the tree. 

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One of the most interesting exploits of Vishnu is his 
recovery of the lost nectar of the gods. In this beautiful 
legend the gods are represented as having been conquered 
in battle by demons and robbed of their strength, where- 
upon Vishnu gives orders to have the ocean churned into 
a nectar for the gods, declaring that this nectar will at 
once restore their supernatural power and enable them to 
destroy their enemies. For this purpose .the gods are 
ordered to collect all plants and herbs and cast them into 
the sea, taking the mountain Mandara for a churning 
stick and Vasuki, the serpent, for a rope, while Vishnu 
himself, in the form of a tortoise, becomes a resting-place 
for the mountain. Then they churn the ocean until they 
have produced the ambrosial food of immortality. 

" Straightway they gathered herbs, and cast them 
Into the waters; then they took the mountain 
To serve as a churning staff, and next the snake 
To serve as cord, and in the ocean's midst 
Hari (Vishnu) himself present, in tortoise form, 
Became a pivot for the churning staff. 
Then they did churn the sea of milk,^ and first 
Out of the waters rose the sacred cow, 
God- worshiped Surabhi — eternal fountain 
Of milk and offerings of butter; next, . . . 
With eyes all rolling, Varuni uprose. 
Goddess of wine. Then from the whirlpool sprang 
Fair Parijata, tree of Paradise, delight 
Of heavenly maidens, with its fragrant blossoms 
Perfuming the whole world. 

1 The sixth circumambient ocean of the world, according to Indian cos- 

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*^ . . . Then seated on a lotus 
Beauty's bright goddess, peerless Sri,^ arose 
Out of the waves ; and with her, robed in white. 
Came forth Dhanvantari, the gods' physician. 
High in his hand he bore the cup of nectar — 
Life-giving draught — longed for by gods and demons. 
Then had the demons forcibly borne off 
And drained the precious beverage. 
Had not the mighty Vishnu interposed. 
Bewildering them, he gave it to the gods ; 
Whereat incensed, the demon troops assailed 
The hosts of heaven. But they with strength renewed 
Quaffing the draught, struck down their foes, who fell 
Headlong through space to lowest depths of hell.'' 

This poetic legend is given in the beautiful transla- 
tion of Sir Monier Williams. The dark and turbid 
waters of Oriental literature became gradually purified 
as they flowed through the poetical natures of some of 
our translators. The vulgarity and meaningless repe- 
tition which we often find in the works of native schol- 
ars gives place in other hands to expressions of high 
poetic beauty. Their own literary style is so refined 
that, unconsciously perhaps to themselves, English schol- 
ars have elevated Hindu poetry to a rank which it 
never could have occupied without them. The con- 
trast is never more forcible than when comparing their 
work with the translations of the Pandits. Boldness 
then gives place to beauty ; vulgarity yields to refine- 

1 According to Hesiod Venus was born from the foam of the sea (Hes. 
Theog. 188 seq.) and Homer speaks of Thetis as rising from the ocean : 
"When like the morning mist in early day 
Rose from the flood the daughter of the sea." 

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ment and delicacy; while crude ideas are so clad in the 
graceful drapery of language as to seem like the mas- 
terpieces of thought. 

The modem triad of Hindu theology is completed by 


Says Max Miiller, '' The stories of Siva, Kali, 
Krishna, etc., are of late growth, indigenous to India, 
and full of wild and fanciful conceptions." 

In the form of Siva, Brahma is supposed to pass 
from the work of creation and preservation to that of 
destruction. Even the god of dissolution was repre- 
sented by the human form. Hence, he was said to be 
living in the Himalaya Mountains, together with his 
wife Parvati, the daughter of the mountain. She was 
worshiped in Bengal under the name of Durga. 

The name Siva means '* auspicious;" like the other 
deities, he is represented as the Supreme God, though 
having over a thousand names, such as ^^ The Lord of 
the Universe," '' The Destroyer," '' The Reproducer," 
'^The Conqueror of Life and Death," etc., etc. His 
especial worshipers are called Saivas, who exalt him to 
the highest place in the heavens ; he is represented as 
Time, Justice, Fire, Water, The Sun, as also the Cre- 
ator and the Destroyer. His personal appearance must 
be rather striking, as his throat is dark blue and his 
hair light red, thickly matted together on the top of 
his head. He is well supplied with hands, the number 
varying with different authorities from four to eight or 
ten. He has five faces, in one of which is a third eye 
situated in the centre of the forehead, and pointing up 
and down. These three eyes are said to denote his 

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view of the three divisions of time — ^past, present, 
and future. He holds a trident in his hand, to denote 
that the three great attributes of Creator, Destroyer, 
and Regenerator are combined in him. 

He wears a tiger^s skin for a garment, while his neck 
is encircled with two necklaces, one made of human 
skulls and the other of serpents, which twist their hor- 
rid forms around his body and neck. The shield of 
Jove is described as 

" Dire, black, tremendous ! Round the margin rolFd 
A fringe of serpents, hissing, guards the gold.'' 

In like manner this Hindu deity bristles everywhere 
with snakes. They are bound in his hair, they twine 
around his neck, their slimy forms encircle his wrists, 
his arms, and his legs. He wears them as rings 
about his fingers; they hang like mammoth pendants 
from his ears, until he is like 

" Gorgon rising from the infernal lakes. 
With horrors armed, and curls of hissing snakes.'' 

According to Wilson, §veta (white), Svetasva (white- 
horsed), §veta-^ikha (white-haired), and Sveta-lohita 
(white-blooded), were the names of four disciples of 
Siva. Prof. Weber thinks that this form of myth has 
grown from the teachings of Syrian Christians, and 
claims that both the Upanishad and the Gita — the lat- 
ter especially — may have borrowed ideas from Chris- 

The ideal Hindu deity taxes the imaginative mind 
of the worshiper to the utmost, and the grotesque is 

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everywhere mingled with the beautiful. For instance, 
Indra is represented as having a thousand eyes, and 
Agni two faces, three legs and seven arms, with eyes, 
eyebrows, and hair of a tawny color. He is sometimes 
represented as riding a ram, and again he appears on 
the back of a goat, and still later in a gleaming chariot 
drawn by "tawny steeds.^' Varuna has two stomachs, 
each of which contains an ocean. Ushas, the beauti- 
ful woman who personifies the dawn, is said to be the 
'^mother of cows or mornings.'' 

Karttikeya, the god of war, and also the god of 
thieves, is a handsome young man with six faces. 

Ravana, the demon king of Ceylon, has ten heads, 
twenty arms, copper-colored eyes, and a heavy beard 
composed of the shining bodies of black serpents. 
Brahma is described as having four faces, golden tusks, 
and wonderfully complicated feet. Ganesa has the 
body of a man and the head of an elephant, on which 
he wears a crown. His ears are adorned with jewels 
and his forehead is sprinkled with sacred ashes. He 
has four arms, two of which being elevated hold a rope 
and an elephant goad; the other two grasp respect- 
ively an elephant's tooth and a pancake. He is said 
to be very fond of pancakes, and his image stands in 
almost every house, where he is worshiped by men and 
women at the beginning of any important event. In- 
deed, the whole pantheon teems with horrible and 
grotesque creations, half man and half god. 

In the Indian Epics, troops of deities and semi- 
divine personages are constantly appearing, while gods, 
animals, and men keep changing places. The gods 
often look to mortals for their daily sustenance. They 

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are represented as actually living on the sacrifices 
which are offered them by human beings, and are sup- 
posed to gather in hungry troops at every sacrificial 
ceremony to feed on the oblations. It is supposed 
that the gods would starve to death but for these 

They are also represented as being dependent upon 
animals and plants for the means of conveyance. Brah- 
ma is carried on a swan, sometimes on a lotus. Lakshmi 
is seated on a lotus, or carries one in her hand. §iva 
rides a white bull, which is his companion. Karttikeya, 
the god of war and of thieves, appears astride a peacock. 
Indra is borne on an elephant; Yama, the god of 
death, appears mounted on a buffalo. Kama, the god 
of love, rides either a parrot or a fish. Ganesa is as- 
sociated with a rat, a symbol of great sagacity ; Varuna 
with a fish. Durga, the wife of §iva, rides a tiger, 
though she is sometimes represented as being on the 
bull with §iva and his countless serpents. 

Vishnu is represented as the Supreme Being sleep- 
ing on a thousand-headed serpent called Sesha, and 
Sesha in his turn is the chief of a race of Nagas, or 
semi-divine beings, half serpents and half men, their 
heads being human, and their bodies snake-like.* The 
simple faith of the Hindu accepts the most incongruous 
fiction without a doubt or a question. There is ap- 
parently no demand for history in their literature. 
The Oriental imagination craves the most impossible 
creations, and worships with simple devotion at the 
shrine of the most repulsive combinations. 

It has been shown that the Aryan people at one 

1 Ind. Wis., p. 429, 

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time shared a common home, and that when the various 
families migrated to different countries they carried 
with them a language which became the stock of the 
modern languages of Europe, and also the germs of 
their later mythologies. But in those early days when 
their worship was simple adoration of the forces of 
nature, their faith was purer and their lives consequently 
better than when in later centuries their pantheon con- 
tained millions of deities, and the worship of painted 
idols was mingled with the adoration of the host of 

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AN examination of the historic suttee is peculiarly in- 
-^^ teresting in connection with the teaching of the 
Vedas, as the question became purely a literary one. The 
English government had pledged itself not to inter- 
fere with Hindu religion ; therefore, if the Vedas 
proper, really sanctioned the horrible crime of burning 
a living woman with her dead husband, the govern- 
ment would be powerless to prevent it. 

For many years an animated discussion was carried 
on between our own scholars and natives of high posi- 
tion and learning in relation to the teaching of the 
Vedas upon this subject.^ When the English govern- 
ment proposed to prohibit the terrible custom the na- 
tives appealed at once to the official pledge that they 

1 While this question was being discussed the number of women burned 
alive varied from three huudred to eight hundred per year. 


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should not be deterred from the exercise of their relig- 
ious rites. For a time the country was threatened with 
a fanatical rebellion in consequence of the agitation 
of this question. Raghu-nandana and other learned 
natives quoted the Rig-veda in support of their claim 
for the suttee, and H. T. Colebrooke, a Sanskrit scholar 
of world-wide fame, translated this passage in harmony 
with their views: 

*^ Om : Let these women not be widowed, good 
wives adorned with collyrium, holding clarified butter, 
consign themselves to the fire. Immortal, not childless, 
not husbandless, well adorned with gems, let them pass 
into the fire, whose original element is water. ^^ It has 
been claimed that the natives mutilated this text by 
changing the word ^^agre^' into "agneh,'^ but no one 
was then able to detect this literary outrage, and women 
continued to be oifered as living sacrifices upon the 
dead bodies of their husbands. In India, where human 
life was so lightly esteemed, these human sacrifices 
failed to inspire the horror that they would have aroused 
in the early history of the Jewish people, whose laws 
were so emphatically against such practices. 

The first Oriental scholar to discover the imposition 
which had been practiced upon the people by the cor- 
ruption of the text, was Prof. Horace Hayman Wilson, 
who makes an elaborate argument to prove that the 
Rig-veda teaches no such thing as the natives claim. 
Max Muller stands faithfully by Wilson, and claims 
that the true rendering of the mutilated passage should 
biB : ^^ May these women who are not widows, but have 
good husbands, draw near with oil and butter. Those 
who are mothers may go up first to the altar without 

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tears, without sorrow, but decked with fine jewels/^ 
He also claims that the verse which the Brahmans have 
mutilated in the support of their claim is followed by 
these words, which are addressed to the wife of the 
dead man : ** Rise, woman, come to the world of life; 
thou sleepest nigh unto him whose life is gone. Come 
to us, thus hast thou fulfilled thy duties of a wife 
to the husband who once took thee by the hand and 
made thee a mother."^ In J. H. Bushby's valuable 
work on this subject, he claims that the weight of evi- 
dence, from both native and European Orientalists, is 
in favor of the humane exposition of the Veda. But 
on the other side we have the testimony of the most 
distinguished scholar of Calcutta, Raja Radhakant Deb, 
who occupied a foremost place amongst the Sanskrit 
scholars of the world, and whose literary encyclopedia 
of the Sanskrit language in seven quarto volumes occu- 
pies a prominent place in Europe, as well as India. 

Prof. Wilson says that ^^ any opinion coming from 
him on subjects connected with the ancient literature 
of this country is entitled to the greatest deference. ^^ 
His views in relation to the suttee were fully expressed 
to his friend. Dr. Wilson, in a cordial letter. This 
communication was written after the abolition of the 
hideous practice in the Indian territories belonging to 
the English government. The question having been 
legally settled, its discussion was looked upon by the 
learned Hindu as being of interest to the historian 
only, and that merely from a literary point of view. 
This being the case, his most strenuous opponents 
could hardly accuse him of literary dishonesty or mis- 

1 Chips, Vol. II., pp. 88-87. 

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It is a noteworthy fact that he does not base his 
opinion upon the text, which, Prof. Wilson confidently 
stated, had been mutilated by the natives. Raja Rad- 
hakant Deb claimed that the most explicit authority 
for the burning of a widow with her deceased hus- 
band was to be found in one of the Upanishads, and 
he gave the following literal translation of the extract: 

1. ^^ Agni, of all Vratas,* thou art the Vratapati,'' 
I will observe the vow (Vrata) of following the husband. 
Do thou enable me to accomplish it. 

2. ^^Here (in this rite) to thee, Agni, I offer 
salutation : I enter into thee : (wherefore) this day 
satisfied with the clarified butter (offered by me) in- 
spire me with courage, and take me to my lord.'^ 
"Agreeably to this Vaidic instruction, the Sutrakaras 
direct that the widow, like the sacrificial utensils, 
should be made to lie upon the funeral pile of her 
husband. To the widow placed beside the lifeless body 
of her husband, a certain part of the Mantras are to 
be addressed by her husband's brother or fellow stu- 
dent.'^' This eminent authority also cites extracts from 
various sacred books, from which the rules and directions 
of the cruel rite have been derived. 

Radhakant Deb admits that there is some variance 
among the sacred works upon this subject, and says : 
"Where there are two authorities of a contradictory 
character, but of equal cogency, an alternative must 
be supposed to be allowed. The Sutrakaras upon the 
Vedic authority above set forth direct that the widow 
as well as the sacrificial utensils of the deceased Brah- 

1 Vowed or voluntary observances. 2 Lord of Vratras. 

8 Works of H. H. Wilson, Vol. II., p. 296. 

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man be placed upon his funeral pile ; but as the 
widow has a will of her own, she cannot be disposed 
of like the inert utensils. The Rig-veda, therefore, 
gives her the option of sacrificing herself or not, ac- 
cording as she may or may not, have courage. When 
the widow lies on the funeral pile, it is presumed that 
she is inclined to immolate herself, and a verse is 
then addressed to her, which is designed to test her 
resolution, and to induce her to retire if she will/^ 
It is also declared, in view of such a contingency, that 
although the SatI who retires from the funeral pile com- 
mits a highly sinful act, it may nevertheless be expi- 
ated by performing the Prajapatya penance — that is, she 
must for three days eat only in the morning ; for three 
days only in the evening ; for three days she must par- 
take of food which is given unsolicited, aud during the 
last thnee days she must eat nothing at all. 

It is true that the Hindu woman was allowed to 
choose between being burned alive and leading the life 
of a widow, but if she chose the latter, she was con- 
sidered a dishonor to her relatives, and the disgraced 
family lost no opportunity of visiting penalties upon 
the cause of their reproach. They made her life so 
intolerable that in most instances the woman preferred 
to be burned alive rather than lead a life of contin- 
ual torture and disgrace. Instances are also on rec- 
ord where women, horribly burned, have been driven 
by their agonies from the funeral pile, only to be 
captured and thrown back again by their loving (?) 
relatives. Dr. Massie relates several instances of this 
kind. In one case the poor victim was driven by her 
sufferings from the flames, upon which some gentle- 

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men who were Bpectators immediately plunged her into 
the river. She retained her senses, and complained 
that the funeral pile was so badly constructed that it 
burned slowly, and with wonderful heroism expressed 
her willingness to go back into the flames if they 
would change its construction, so that her suiferings 
would be sooner at an end. This the cruel natives 
refused to do, and taking their suffering relative by 
the head and feet they held her in the fire until 
driven away themselves by the heat, when they threw 
her into the blazing pile ; but she again made her 
escape, and going toward the river, ran into the arms 
of a European gentleman, and cried to him to save 
her. The writer says : ^^ I arrived at the grounds as 
they (the natives) were bringing her a second time 
from the river, and I cannot describe to you the hor- 
ror I felt on seeing the mangled condition she was in." 
(Here follows a description too revolting for repetition.) 
She was rescued by the Europeans, lingered in agony 
about twenty hours, and then died.^ 

Men who had kept at a safe distance from the fire 
were sometimes very eloquent on the beauties (?) of 
this ceremony. Boyses translates from a poet of about 
two thousand years ago the following eulogy upon the 
horrible custom, and the extract is quoted by Raja Rad- 
hakant Deb in his celebrated letter to Dr. Wilson : 

^^ Happy the laws that in those climes obtain. 
Where the bright morning reddens all the main. 
There whensoever the happy husband dies, 
And on the funeral couch extended lies, 

1 Uncivilized Races, p. 1409. 

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His faithful wives around the scene appear, 
With pompous dress and with triumphant air, 
For partnership in death ambitious strive. 
And dread the shameful fortune to survive. 
Adorned with flowers the lovely victims stand. 
With smiles ascend the pile and light the brand. 
Grasp their dear partners with unaltered faith. 
And yield exulting to the fragrant death. ^' 

Raja Radhakant Deb also argues with great force 
that the custom must be derived from Vedic authority, 
from the fact of its having prevailed in India in very 
remote times — when Vedic rites only were in vogue. 
He claims that it was practiced during the lives of 
their early kings and sages, who were imbued with 
Vedic learning and devoted to the observance of Vedic 
rituals. It appears, therefore, from the evidence of 
the best Orientalists, both European and native, that 
although the early mythological songs of the Rig-veda 
do not teach that a living woman must be burned 
upon the dead body of her husband, the Vedic teach- 
ers have not prevented it. The Rig-veda is not a 
ritual ; the directions for performing this horrible rite 
of human sacrifice and self-immolation are found, 
however, in other ancient and sacred books of the 
Hindus — all of which are classed by the Brahmans 
under the general name of Vedas. Certain it is that 
this terrible custom prevailed in India for more than 
two thousand years, and it would doubtless be prac- 
ticed even now if that country had not been pene- 
trated by the advancing light of Christian civilization. 

At the close of the last century seventy widows were 

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burned alive with the body of one of the rajas. When 
Lord Wm. Bentinck was appointed Governor-General of 
India, he determined that this terrible crime should 
cease, and the Hindu dignitaries were astonished by a 
sudden decree, which they found it impossible to repeal 
or modify. Under the wise administration of Lord 
Bentinck the suttee was abolished in 1830, and the 
beautiful Ganges flowed to the sea with her waves un- 
stained with blood. 

Marshman accuses Prof. Wilson of being an advocate 
of non-interference with this barbarous rite, but we 
must remember that we are indebted to this very 
scholar for the detection of the mutilated text, by 
the aid of which the natives long held the English 
government at bay, under the promise of the latter that 
their religion was not to be interfered with. Lord 
Bentinck and others who have been brought into daily 
contact with the practical cruelty of this people are far 
less enthusiastic over the race than is the European 
scholar who studies the finest specimens of Hindu 
poetry in the quiet seclusion of his own library. 

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THE second grand division of Vedic literature is 
devoted almost entirely to directions and rules for 
the various rites and ceremonies. The oldest of them, 
according to leading Sanskrit scholars/ was written 
seven or eight centuries before Christ, or from twelve 
to fourteen hundred years after Abraham. Their com- 
position is rambling and unsystematic, and full of repe- 
tition and trivial detail. 

Brahmana means originally the sayings of Brahmans 
or priests. It is a name applicable not only to books, 
but to the old prose traditions, whether contained in 
the Sanhitas, the Brahmanas, the Aranyakas, the 
Upanishads, or even, in some cases, the Sutras. (See 
Wilson.) At the conclusion of his long and exhaustive 
labors, Julius Eggeling, the faithful translator of the 
^atapatha-brahmana, speaks of his thankless task as 
follows : ^^ The translator of the ^atapatha-brahmana 

1 Prof. H. H. Wilson, Sir Monier Williams, and others. 

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can be under no illusion as to the reception his pro- 
duction is likely to meet with at the hand of the 
general reader. In the whole range of literature, few 
works are probably less calculated to excite the inter- 
est of any, outside the very limited number of special- 
ists, than the ancient theological writings of the Hindus, 
known by the name of Brahmanas. For wearisome pro- 
lixity of exposition, characterized by dogmatic asser- 
tion, and a flimsy symbolism, rather than by serious 
reasoning, these works are perhaps not equalled 

Still they represent the period in the history of that 
country when the priests had succeeded in transform- 
ing the primitive worship of the powers of nature into 
a highly artificial system of rites, ceremonies and sacri- 
fices. Human nature appears to be much the same 
in all ages of the world, and the Hindu priests did 
not fail to avail themselves of the religious instincts of 
a naturally devout race ; they were always intent upon 
deepening their hold on the minds of the people, by 
surrounding their own vocation with the halo of sanc- 
tity and divine inspiration. With them it was a mat- 
ter of position, of influence, and of money to urge the 
necessity of frequent and liberal offerings to the gods, 
and to invoke worldly blessings upon the devotee. 
The priestly bard often pleaded his own cause, as well 
as that of his employer. For instance, Kanva sings 
in the Rig-veda, ^*Let him be rich, let him be fore- 
most, the bard of the rich, of so illustrious a magha- 
ven, (wealthy patron of priests,) as thou, Lord of 
the bay steeds.'^ ^ 

1 Int, pp. 9-11. 

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Hence the people were loaded down with rites and 
ceremonies upon all possible occasions. The devout 
Brahman must have spent nearly all his time in un- 
meaning rites, penances and oblations. For instance, 
if a man dreams of being killed by a black man with 
black teeth, or of being killed by a boar, or if he 
dreams that a monkey jumps upon him, that the wind 
carries him along quickly, or that having swallowed gold 
he spits it out ; if he dreams of eating honey, of chew- 
ing stalks, of carrying a red lotus, of wearing a wreath 
of red flowers, or of driving a black cow, with a black 
calf, facing the south, he must fast, and cook a pot 
of milk and sacrifice it, accompanying each oblation 
with a verse of the Rig-veda, and then, after having 
feasted the priest (with other food prepared at his 
house) he must eat all of the oblation himself. 

The method by which man arrived at the knowledge 
of the virtues of sacrifices is thus explained in the 

^^ The gods killed a man for their victim, but from 
him thus killed the part which was fit for a sacrifice 
went out and entered a horse. Hence the horse be- 
came an animal fit for being sacrificed. The gods then 
killed the horse, but the part that was fit for being 
sacrificed went out of it and entered a sheep. Thence 
it entered a goat. The sacrificial part remained for 
the longest time in the goat, then the goat became 
pre-eminently fit for being sacrificed. The gods went 
up to heaven by means of offerings. They were afraid 
that men and sages, after having seen their ceremo- 
nies, might inquire how they could obtain some knowl- 
edge of sacrificial rites, and follow them. They there- 

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fore debarred them, by means of the Yupa (or post to 
which the victim was fastened), turning its point down- 
wards. Thereupon, the men and sages dug the post 
out, and turned its point upwards. Thus they became 
aware of the sacrifice and reached the heavenly world."* 

Besides the daily devotional acts, there were two 
semi-monthly sacrifices enjoined upon every Brahmani- 
cal householder, each of which lasted two days. This 
must be continued during the first thirty years of 
housekeeping, and according to some authorities it 
must be kept up through life. The ceremonies began 
with a preparation of the sacrificial fires. The fire- 
places were thrice swept, thrice besmeared with gomaya, 
three lines being drawn across them from west to east, 
or from south to north, with a wooden sword, after 
which the dust was removed from the lines with the 
thumb and ring finger, and the lines sprinkled thrice 
with water, etc. Many pages are filled with minute 
instructions in relation to these long ceremonies, and 
with a description of the vegetables and clarified butter, 
which the Brahman and his wife were to eat before 
finally taking a vow. 

Many pages are devoted to the washing or the 
brushing of the spoons, and to the particular method 
of laying the sacrificial grass upon the altar, for the 
numerous periodical oblations and for sacrifices in gen- 
eral. The instructions in relation to making the offer- 
ings to Agni (fire) are also both minute and multitu- 
dinous. A very brief extract upon this subject will 
satisfy the reader, as it is a fair sample of the literary 
style of hundreds of pages: 

iBook2: (Haug. 1-8.) 

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1. "They (the sticks for the sacrificial fire) should 
be green, for that is their living element — by that 
they are vigorous, by that possessed of strength, for 
this reason they should be green. 

2. "The middle sticks he lays down first on the 
west side of the fire, with the text ' May the Gand- 
harva Visvasu lay thee around for the security of the 
all. Thou art a fence to the sacrificer. Thou art 
Agni, invoked and worthy of invocation.' 

3. " He then lays down the southern one, with the 
text * Thou art Indra's arm for the security of the all. 
Thou art a fence to the sacrificer, thou Agni, invoked 
and worthy of invocation.' 

4. "He then lays down the northern one with the 
text ^May the Mitra Varuna lay thee around in the 
north with firm law for the security of the all. Thou 
art a fence to the sacrificer, thou Agni, invoked and 
worthy of invocation.''' 

Thereupon he puts on the fire a kindling stick ; he 
first touches with it the middle inclosing stick; there- 
by he first kindles those (three Agnis). After that he 
puts it on the fire — thereby he kindles the visible fire. 

This, however, is only the beginning of intermina- 
ble pages of description, as to the meaning of each 
stick, each motion, and each mumbled invocation on 
the part of the sacrificer. While the Brahmanas are 
almost exclusively devoted to the formulas of domestic 
sacrifice, and the almost endless succession of petty 
details, they also contain some legends on other 

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One of these represents the gods and demons in a 
mighty warfare, in which the evil demons formed the 
earth into an iron citadel, changed the air into a sil- 
ver fortress, and the sky into a fort of gold. Where- 
upon the gods said, '^We will build other worlds in 
opposition to these/* Then they constructed sacrifi- 
cial palaces, where they made a triple burnt oblation. 
By the first sacrifice they drove the demons out of 
their earthly fortresses, by the second they expelled 
them from the air, and by the third they routed them 
from the sky. Thus were the evil spirits chased by 
the gods in triumph from the world. ^ 


The Aitareya-brahmana, written about 600 B. C, 
contains also the story of Sunahfepa, in which the 
doctrine of human sacrifice is introduced, and a father 
is represented as selling his son to be offered to 

As the story goes. King Hariscandra had no son. 
He therefore went to the god Varuna and promised 
that deity that if he would grant him a son he would 
sacrifice the child to him. A son was then born to 
him and was named Rohita. At last the royal father 
told his son that he was devoted to sacrifice and must 
prepare for it. But the boy refused to comply with 
his father^s demands, and taking his bow he left his 
home and took up his abode in the forest, whereupon 
Vai'una afl&icted the king with dropsy for failing to 
fulfill his pledge. 

After a time Rohita found in the forest a half- 

1 Altareya-brah., Haug's Ed., 1-28. 

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starved hermit who had three sons. The young prince 
purchased one of the boys for a hundred cows and 
took him to his father. The god Varuna accepted the 
substitute, and the sacrificial post was made ready; but 
no one was found who was willing to bind the victim. 
The father of ^unahfepa then came forward and said: 

'*^6ive me a hundred cows and I will bind him.' 
They gave them to him and he bound the boy. 
But now no person would consent to kill him. 
Then said the father, ^ Give me yet again 
Another hundred cows and I will slay him.' 
Once more they gave him a hundred and the father 
Whetted the knife to sacrifice his son. 
Then said the boy, ^ Let me implore the gods ; 
Haply they will deliver me from death.' 
So ^unah^epa prayed to all the gods 
With verses from the Veda, and they heard him. 
Thus was the boy released from sacrifice. 
And Harificandra was restored to health. ''* 


In common with other nations and peoples, the an- 
cient Hindus possessed their tradition of a universal 
deluge. Concerning this great historic event the 
same voice comes to us from the archives of Babylon, 
from the clay tablets of old Assyria, from the hiero- 
glyphs of Egypt, from the annals of Greece,^ from 
the parchments of China, and from the pages of the 

1 Haug'8 Ed., 7-18, Williams' trans. 

2 According to the Greek tradition of a general deluge, every living being 
was destroyed except those who escaped in a boat, and these repeo- 
pled the earth after the flood subsided, as in the traditions of many other 

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Satapatha-brahmana. This Indo- Aryan tradition of the 
deluge, which has existed for so many generations in 
India, represents the ark as being saved by Vishnu in 
his character as a fish, which is his first incarnation. 
It reads as follows : 

" There lived in ancient time a holy man 
Called Manu, who by penances and prayer 
Had won the favor of the Lord of heaven. 
One day they brought him water for ablution; 
Then as he washed his hands a little fish 
Appeared, and spoke in human accents thus: 

^Take care of me and I will be thy saviour.^ 

'From what wilt thou preserve me?' Manu asked. 
The fish replied, ^A flood will sweep away 
All creatures. I will rescue thee from that.' 

'But how shall I preserve thee?' Manu said. 
The fish rejoined, 'So long as we are small. 
We are in constant danger of destruction. 
For fish eat fish. So keep me in a jar; 
When I outgrow the jar, then dig a trench 
And place me there; when I outgrow the trench. 
Then take me to the ocean ; I shall then 
Be out of reach of danger.' Having thus 
Instructed Manu, straightway rapidly 
The fish grew larger. Then he spoke again, 

'In such and such a year the flood will come; 
Therefore construct a ship and pay me homage; 
When the flood rises enter thou the ship 

nations. The principal personage thus saved, according to Greek tradition, 
was Deukalion, the ruler of Thessaly and the son of Prometheus. His father 
had told him to build a ship and furnish it with provisions, and when the 
flood came he and his wife Pyrrha were the only people who escaped.— /Slct. 

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And I will rescue thee/ So Mann did 
As he was ordered, and preserved the fish. 
Then carried it in safety to the ocean. 
And in the very year the fish enjoined 
He built a ship, and paid the fish respect. 
And there took refuge when the flood arose. 
Soon near him swam the fish, and to its horn 
Manu made fast the cable of his vessel. 
Thus drawn along the waters, Manu passed 
Beyond the northern mountain; then the fish 
Addressing Manu said, ^I have preserved thee. 
Quickly attach the ship to yonder tree. 
But lest the waters sink from under thee. 
As fast as they subside, so fast shalt thou 
Descend the mountain gently after them.^ 
Thus he descended from the northern mountain. 
The flood had swept away all living creatures; 
Manu was left alone. Wishing for offspring. 
He earnestly performed a sacrifice. 
In a yearns time a female was produced; 
She came to Manu, then he said to her, 

*Who art thou?' She replied, *I am thy daughter.' 
He said, 'How, lovely lady, can that be?' 

^I came forth,' she rejoined, 'from thine oblations 
Cast upon the waters; thou wilt find in me 
A blessing; use me in the sacrifice.' 
With her he worshiped, and with toilsome zeal 
Performed religious rites, hoping for offspring. 
Thus were created men called sons of Manu. 
Whatever benediction he implored 
With her, was thus vouchsafed in full abundance."* 

1 Williams' trans., Ind. Wis., p. 82. 

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THE brAhmanas. 83 

This legend in the ^atapatha-brahmana is after- 
wards repeated in the Maha-bharata. The Brahmanas 
have more allusions to a future life, and contain stronger 
statements on that subject than can be found in the 
earlier vein of Hindu literature, but the doctrine of 
the transmigration of souls appears not to be fully de- 
veloped until we reached the Code of Manu and the 

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XNTIMATELY connected with the ceremonies of the 
-L Vedas, we find the Code of Manu, which in its present 
form dates back to about the fifth century before Christ. 
Some parts of it were doubtless current at a considerably 
earlier date, as the gods mentioned are principally Vedic. 
Originally, it merely represented certain rules and precepts, 
probably by different authors, which were observed by a 
particular tribe or school of Brahmans called Manavas. 
This tribe appears to have been adherents of the Black 
Yajur-veda, and their Mantras and Brahmana are still 
extant. Ultimately, however, the code was accepted by 
the Hindu people generally, and received a reverence 
which was second only to that which was accorded to 
the Vedas. It became also the chief authority in 
Hindu jurisprudence. 


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The Laws of Manu plainly reveal the strenuous rules by 
which the Brahmans sought to perpetuate an organized 
system of caste which should definitely define and main- 
tain their own superiority. They were drawn largely 
from earlier authorities, but the real compiler and pro- 
mulgator of them is unknown. In common with other 
Hindu works, the code claims a divine origin. 

A sage named Manu is represented as saying: '* The 
god Brahma having formed this system of laws himself, 
taught it fully to me in the beginning. I then taught it 
to Marici and the nine other sages, my offspring. Of 
these (my sons) Bhrigu is deputed by me to declare the 
code to you (Rishis), for he has learned from me to recite 
the whole of it.^' ' 


The Hindu theory of caste is that the gods created one 
class of men superior to another — that there is as much 
difference between the various classes of men as between 
the different kinds of birds and animals. The creation of 
this great distinction is thus accounted for in one of the 
latest hymns of the Rig-veda: ' 

^^ The embodied spirit has a thousand heads, 
A thousand eyes, a thousand feet around 
On every side enveloping the earth. 
Yet filling space no larger than a span. 
He is himself this very universe. 
He is, whatever is, has been and shall be. 
He is the Lord of Immortality. 

1 Ind. Wis., pp. 212-215. 

2 As the whole of this celebrated hymn has been given in the first chapter 
a brief quotation here will sufllce. 

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'* How did they cut him up? What was his mouth? 
What were his arms? and what his thighs and feet? 
The Brahman was his mouth — the kingly soldier 
Was made his arms, the husbandman his thighs. 
The servile Sudra^ issued from his teet."^ 

Hence, the divine order of caste seems to be : 

1. The Brahman, who is supposed to issue from the 
mouth of Brahma. 

2. Kshatriya, or "kingly soldier/^ who issues from 
the arms. 

3. The husbandman, or Vaisya caste, who comes from 
the thighs. 

4. The servile Sudra, who issues from his feet. 

It is therefore claimed that the divine right of kings 
is emphasized and exaggerated in the divine right of 
priests; that a Brahman is such by virtue of his birth; 
and that he was created with special reference to his po- 
sition as the head of all mankind. 

It is said that "Since the Brahman sprang from 
the most excellent part (the mouth of Brahma), since 
he has the priority arising from primogeniture, and 
since he possesses the Veda, he is by right the Lord 
of this whole creation,'^ and again, "Even when Brah- 
mans employ themselves in all sorts of inferior occu- 
pations, they must under all circumstances be honored, 
for they are to be regarded as supreme divinities.^' 
"From his high birth alone, a Brahman is regarded 
as a divinity, even by the gods. His teaching must 
be accepted by the rest of the world as an infallih'e 

1 Slave or lowest caste. ^ See Man. 10-90. Willi "lao' trans. 

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He is also declared to possess power which is in per- 
fect harmony with his divine position and character. 
In Book 9, pp. 313-314, it is said, ''Let not a king, 
although fallen into the greatest distress, provoke Brah- 
inans to anger (by taking revenue from them), for they, 
if once enraged, could instantly (by pronouncing curses 
and mystical texts) destroy him with all his army and 
retinue. ^'1 


or military and kingly caste, ranked next to the Brah- 
mans in position and influence. They introduced into 
India the scepticisms of philosophical speculation, but 
with the natural adhesiveness peculiar to monopolies, 
Brahmanism and rationalism soon made a compromise to 
the effect that however inconsistent with each other, 
neither should denounce the other as a false guide, and 
thereafter they co-operated with each other in retainir g 
their ascendency over the lower classes. 


or agricultural class, forms the third rank, and they, as 
well as the Brahmans and Kshatriyas, claim to be '' twice 


or servile class, is only once born, and forms the low- 
est rank. But they are just as particular as their supe- 
riors to retain their proper position and caste. They 
would not intermarry with a higher order, and if they 
*^id their children would not be even Sudras. All the 
rules of caste are sacred as ordinances of their religion ; 

1 Ind. Wis., pp. 840, 241. 

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hence, the man who dresses hair would not clean clothes, 
neither could a table waiter be induced to caxry an 


The most elaborate and tedious details are given for 
the endless ceremonies connected with all the minutias 
of a Brahman's life. Sometimes a great sacrifice lasts 
for weeks or months, or even years. The ceremonies 
and purifications connected with his student life are as 
long as his course of study, which comprises a knowl- 
edge of the three Vedas. He must go through twelve 
'^purificatory rites/' and it is a noticeable fact that 
the last of these is marriage, which is, in the language 
of Williams, '^a religious duty, incumbent upon all 
completing the purification and regeneration of the 
twice born.'' 

He also receives explicit directions in relation to 


in the following words: 

''Let him not marry a girl with reddish hair, nor 
one with a superfluity of limbs (as, for instance, one 
with six fingers), nor one who is sickly, nor one with 
either too little or too much hair;* nor one who talks 
too much ; nor one who is red-eyed ; nor one named 
after a constellation, a tree, or a river ; nor one with a 
barbarous name, or the name of a mountain, a bird, a 
snake, a slave, or any frightful object. But let him 
marry a woman without defective or deformed limbs, 
having an agreeable name, whose gait is like that of a 

iIiicl.Wl8., XXV. 

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flamingo or elephant, whose teeth and hair are moderate 
in quantity, and whose whole body is soft/^^ 

The marriage rites in Manu's Code are evidently 
taken from older works. The following is quoted by 
Prof. Williams as the 


^^West of the sacred fire a stone is placed, and 
northeast a water jar. The bridegroom offers an obla- 
tion standing, looking toward the west, and taking 
hold of the bride's hands, while she sits and looks 
toward the east. If he wishes only for sons, he clasps 
her thumbs, and says, ^I clasp thy hands for the sake 
of good fortune;' the fingers alone if he wishes for 
daughters; the hairy side of the hand, along with the 
thumbs, if he wishes for both sons and daughters. 
Then, whilst he leads her toward the right three times 
around the fire and around the water jar, he says in 
a low tone, 'I am he, thou art she; thou art she, I 
am he. I am the heaven, thou art the eai*th. Come, 
let us marry ; let us possess offspring. United in affec- 
tion, illustrious, well disposed toward each other, let 
us live a hundred years.' Every time he leads her 
around, he makes her ascend the mill-stone, and says, 
'Ascend thou this stone — be thou firm as a stone.' 
Then the bride's brother, after spreading melted butter 
on the joined palms of her hands, scatters parched 
grains of rice on them twice and after pouring the 
oblation of butter on the fire, some Vedic texts are re- 
cited. Then the bridegroom loosens the two braided 
tresses of hair — one on each side of the top of the 

1 Book 8, 8-10. 

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bride^s head — repeating the Vedic text, ^I loose thee 
from the fetters of Varuna, with which the very aus- 
picious Savitri has bound thee/ He now causes her 
to step seven steps towards the northeast quarter, say- 
ing to her, ^Take thou one step for the acquirement 
of sap-like energy ; take thou two steps for strength ; 
take thou three steps for the increase of wealth; take 
thou four steps for well being; take thou five steps 
for offspring; take thou six steps for the season; take 
thou seven steps as a friend. Be faithfully devoted to 
me. May we obtain many sons; may they attain to 
a good old age.* Then bringing both their heads into 
close juxtaposition, some one sprinkles them with water 
from the jar. He should remain for that night in the 
house of an old Brahman woman whose husband and 
children are alive. When the bride sees the polar 
star and Arundhati and the seven Rishis, let her break 
silence and say, ^May my husband live, and may I 
obtain children.* When he (the bridegroom) has com- 
pleted the marriage ceremonial, he should give the 
bride*s dress to one who knows the Surya-sukta, and 
food to the Brahmans. Then he should make them 
pronounce a blessing upon him.** 

The marriage ceremony once completed, the bride- 
groom at once enters upon the endless round of cere- 
monies which are enjoined upon the householder — the 
sacred fire, the daily ablutions, etc., etc. Five chap- 
ters are devoted to domestic ceremonies connected with 
the birth and treatment of children, and still others 
to the investiture with the sacred thread, which 
the Brahman child receives in his eighth year, the 
Kshatriya, in his eleventh, and the Vaisya in his twelfth. 

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As this rite is supposed to confer the second or spiritual 
birth, the Sudra child does not receive it at all, only 
the three upper classes being ^^ twice born/^^ 

woman's rights. 

So far as the woman's position in the household is 
concerned, it is one of complete subordination to the 
will of the ^4ord of the manor/' Still, great respect 
is paid to the mother by her children, and it is 
claimed that the seclusion of Hindu wives was largely 
the result of the introduction of Moslem customs, 
when the Mohammedans invaded India. The following 
extracts will give an intelligible idea of the Hindu law 
upon this point: 

'^Day and night must women be made to feel their 
dependence on their husbands. But if they are fond 
of worldly amusements, let them be allowed to follow 
their own inclinations."^ 

^*Let not a husband eat with his wife, nor look at 
her eating."' 

'^ Women have no business to repeat texts of the 
Veda — thus is the law established." 

"Domestic rites are to be performed in common 
with the wife — so it is ordained in the Veda."* 

"As far as a wife obeys her husband, so far is she 
exalted in heaven. A husband must be continually 
revered as a god by a virtuous wife."*^ 

With the lapse of time civilization appears to be 
having some effect upon the unmitigated despotism of 

1 Book 1, 7. 3 Book 4, 4-3. 5 Book 5, 154-160. 

2 Book 9, 2. *Book 9, 18-96. 

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the Hindu householder towards his wife. The Maha- 
bharata, some parts of which it is claimed were written 
during the Christian era, contains the following tribute 
to the faithful wife: 

" A wife is half the man, his truest friend. 
A loving wife is a pei-petual spring 
Of virtue, pleasure, wealth. A faithful wife 
Is his best aid in seeking heavenly bliss. 
A sweetly speaking wife is a companion 
In solitude ; a father in advice ; 
A mother in all seasons of distress; 
A rest in passing through lifers wilderness.'^ ^ 

That such sentiments live upon the pages of their 
own sacred literature must be a great source of strength 
to the missionaries who are trying to educate and ele- 
vate the womanhood of India. Still, it must be con- 
fessed, that it is only in countries which are illumined 
by the teachings of Christianity that woman takes 
her true position at her husband's side, and works 
with him for the elevation of the human race. 


Lying is pronounced sometimes justifiable : ^' In 
certain cases a man stating a fact falsely from a pious 
motive, even though he knows the truth, is not excluded 
from heaven — such a statement they call divine speech.'' 
Yet severe penances are required for trivial sins of 
omission, or for the performance of any act causing 
loss of caste. 

If a Brahman receives a present from a wicked per- 

1 Maha. I, 8028, William's trans. 

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son, he must repeat the Savitri* ^^ three thousand times, 
with a collected mind,^^ and drink milk for one month in 
a cow house. If he has eaten improper food, he is 
absolved by repeating for three days certain texts in 
the Rig-veda. If a twice-born man, through infatua- 
tion, should drink intoxicating liquor, he might drink 
of the same liquor boiling hot, and if his body is com- 
pletely scalded by the process he is absolved from 

" A Brahman performing the penance called hot 
and severe, must swallow hot water, hot milk, hot 
clarified butter, and hot air, each for three days suc- 
cessively, after bathing, and keeping his organs of sense 
all restrained. ^^* 

Many others are prescribed, some of them being of 
the most loathsome nature, and entirely unfit for pub- 
lication; for instance, the penance called Santapana.' 


The civil and religious code is strangely combined 
in the laws of Manu. Sometimes the criminal seems 
to be under the jurisdiction of a purely civil law, and 
again he is threatened with the most terrible punish- 
ments in various forms, through which his soul must 
pass after leaving the body. 

As future punishment will be treated in its proper 
place, under the doctrinal teachings of the Upanishads, 
we distinguish here between the civil punishment bestowed 
upon the criminal, and that with which he is threatened 

1 A sacred text which is said to have been milked out of the Vedas. 
2 Book n, 214. 3 Book n, 212. 

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in the world to come. Sir Wm. Jones says that ^^ The 
cruel mutilations practiced by the native powers are 
shocking to humanity/* and Sir Monier Williams de- 
clares that ^^ The three most conspicuous features of 
Manu^s penal laws were severity, inconsistency, and a 
belief in the supposed justice of lex talionis/' This 
learned Orientalist made a careful study of this partic- 
ular form of legislation, and to him we are indebted 
for much valuable information. In the light of the fol- 
lowing extracts, we cannot wonder that he considered 
the "punishment unjustifiably disproportionate to the 
offences committed, and sometimes barbarously cruel/' 

"With whatever member of the body a low-born 
man may injure a superior, that very member of his 
body must be mutilated.*' ^ 

"A once-born man insulting twice-born men with 
abusive language must have his tongue cut out.'* 

" Should he mention their name and caste with in- 
sulting expressions, a red-hot iron spike, ten fingers 
long, is to be thrust into his mouth." 

" Thieves are to have their hands cut off, and then 
to be impaled on a sharp stick.*** 

"A goldsmith detected in committing frauds is to 
have his body cut to pieces with razors.*** 

We can hardly imagine any form of humanity suffi- 
ciently low and crael to inflict these horrible punish- 
ments, even upon the vilest of criminals, neither could 
the legal student believe that such enactments had 
ever been made, if they were not actually present in 
the record. 

I Book Vm, 279. 2 Book IX, 276. 8 Book IX, 292. 

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The rules for disposing of the dead were evidently 
derived from the Grihya-sutras, an authority on domes- 
tic rites, which was extant in India before the laws of 
Manu were compiled. The most explicit directions 
are given as to the washing of the body, the trimming 
of the nails, hair, and beard. It is enjoined also that 
a jAece of ground must be dug southeast or southwest 
of the place where the man lived and died. It 
should be in length as long as the man with his 
arms raised, a fathom wide, and a span in depth. 

The burning and burying ground should be open 
on all sides, rich in shrubs, particularly of thorny and 
milky plants, and elevated in such a manner that 
water would run down on every side. If the deceased 
happened to die in the midst of a sacrifice (which is 
very liable to be the case among a people the greater 
part of whose time is occupied with religious ceremo- 
nies), his relations take his three sacred fires and his 
sacrificial implements and carry them to the place of 
cremation. Behind follow the old men, without their 
wives, carrying the corpse. Their number should not 
be even. In some places> however, the corpse is car- 
ried on a wheel cart, drawn by an ox or some other 
animal. Either a cow or a black kid, or a kid of 
any one color, is led behind by a rope tied to its left 
leg. This animal is to be slain and afterwards strewn 
over the corpse and burnt with it. 

After the procession has reached the ground, he who 
has to perform the sacrifice steps forth, walks three 
times around the place towards the left, sprinkles it 

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with water from the branch of a tree, and repeats a 
verse from the Veda. 

The fires are placed on the borders of a pit, accord- 
ing to the following formula : The Ahavaniya fire 
is placed to the southeast, the Garhapatya to the 
northwest and the Dakshina to the southwest. The 
dead body must be placed with its feet toward the 
Garhapatya fire and the head towards the Ahavaniya. 
If the Ahavaniya fire reaches the dead man first, his 
spirit is borne to heaven; if the Garhapatya reaches 
him first, then his spirit is taken to the middle region ; 
if the Dakshina, then it remains in the world of mor- 
tals. When all three of these fires reach him at the 
same time, it is the most auspicious omen of all. The 
wooden pile is properly laid in the midst of these 
fires, sacrificial grass is then strewn upon the pile, and 
the skin of a black antelope, with the fur on the out- 
side, is placed over it. The wife is made to lie down 
to the north of her husband, and if he be a Kshatriya, 
a bone is also placed there. If the wife is not to be 
immolated, she is then led away, and the animal is 
brought. The fat of the animal is cut out, and put 
like a cover over the face of the dead, while the fol- 
lowing verse from the Rig-veda is recited : 

^'Put on this armor (taken) from the cows to pro- 
tect thee against Agni, and cover thyself with fat, 
that he, the wild one, who delights in flames, the 
hero, may not embrace thee, wishing to consume 
thee.^^ ' 

The kidneys, also, are taken out and put into the 

1B-V.8, 16-17. 

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hands of the dead, while the following quotation is re- 
peated; ^'Escape on the right path the two dogs, the 
four-eyed, tawny breed of Sarama, then approach the 
wise fathers, who, happy with Yama, enjoy happiness/'* 

The heart of the animal is laid on the heart of the 
corpse, and after considerable ceremony the antelope 
skin is covered over the whole and various oblations 
are offered, each accompanied with a text from the 
Veda. After this the fire is lighted, and they walk 
away without looking back, at the same time reciting a 
verse from the Veda. 

This is the briefest possible sketch of an almost in- 
terminable ceremony, after which all parties concerned 
must go through with the long ceremonies of purifica- 
tion. The ashes and bones are gathered and buried, 
with as much ceremony as attended the burning, and 
again all parties must go through the process of purifi- 
cation. The medical advice is equally complicated, and 
the patient is compelled to perform for himself the most 
exhaustive rites; if he recovers, there are a multitude 
of sacrifices and oblations demanded of him. Thus the 
whole life of the patient Hindu, from the cradle to the 
grave, is burdened with ceaseless rites and offerings to 
the various gods of the pantheon. 

The extracts here given will serve to give an intelli- 
gible idea of the voluminous law books of Manu, about 
twenty of which are still in existopce. This collection 
of laws is one of the most sacred portions of Sanskrit 
literature. It presents an early picture of the moral 
and intellectual condition of the people, fully illustrat- 
ing the severity with which the priestly class enforced 

1R.-V, 10, 10-14. 

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the rules of caste, and their own superiority even over 
kings and princes. 

It is a compilation of rules which had been handed 
down orally, perhaps for many generations, and were at 
last gathered and arranged in a systematic collection, 
l^hey soon reached a position where they were held to be 
infallible, and Manu says, ^* By ^ruti is meant the Veda, 
and by Smriti the books of the law; ths contents of these 
must never he questioned ly reason/' ** Nevertheless,^^ 
says Williams, **in almost every place where the Man- 
tras of the Rig-veda are alluded to by Manu, errors 
disfigure the text and commentary.'' 

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WE now come to the third grand division of the 
Vedas, called the Upanishads or mystical doc- 

As has been stated, the earliest hymns of the Vedas 
are mostly in praise of the various gods of the earth, 
sky, or air, and include invocations to their deities for 
food, rich herds, large families, and long life, for which 
blessings the gods are to be rewarded with sacrifices 
and oblations of clarified butter, or of the soma juice, 


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offered in their sacred groves.* The speculative, or the- 
ological portion of the Vedas is explained in separate 
books, called Upanishads. These are therefore the doc- 
trinal portions of the Vedas. 

This word, derived from the root sad (to sit), 
preceded by the two prepositions ni (down) and upa 
(near), expresses the idea of a number of pupils sit- 
ting down near their teacher to listen to his instruc- 
tions. It also implies something which underlies the 
surface, and the doctrine contained in these treatises 
does, in fact, underlie the whole system of Hindu 

These books are of later origin than the Rig- 
veda,* but they were called by Eammohun Roy, *^the 
kernel of the Vedas." This distinguished native 
scholar translated several of the books at his own 

The number of Upanishads has been variously es- 
timated, but a list of about one hundred and fifty has 
been obtained by Europeans, many of them bearing dis- 
tinctive titles, which are almost unpronounceable by 
any one except the natives. 

iThe worship of Baal consisted of the planting of groves, and of 
oflFerings to the sun and moon, and all the host of heaven; this was 
the form of idolatry for which the children of Israel were repeatedly 
punished. "The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, 
and the women knead their dough to make cakes to the Queen of Heaven, 
and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods." — Jer. vii: 18. The 
great difference between the Sabeanismof the Chaldeans and that of the 
Hindus is that the Chaldeans made the stars prominent in their worship, 
while the Hindus adored principally the sun and moon. 

2 Prof. Wilson, Dr. Mill, and other Orientalists at last succeeded in con- 
vincing the most learned natives that the Upanishads belonged to a later 
age than the early hymns of the Veda. This is only one of many in- 
stances in which European scholars have been able to give information 
to the Hindus concerning their own sacred books. 

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According to the chronology usually received by 
Sanskrit scholars, the most ancient of these books 
must have slightly preceded the rise of Buddhism (600 
B. C). Sir Monier Williams, however, assigns 500 B. 
C« as the utmost limit of their antiquity. But, accord- 
ing to Max Miiller, the germs of the doctrines taught 
in the Upanishads may be found in the early period of 
Vedic literature, which has been provisionally fixed at 
from 800 to 1000 B. C. 

There are many whose exact chronology it is almost 
impossible to determine, although it is easy to see that 
they belong to very different periods of Hindu thought, 
and some of them must be quite modem, as mention 
is even made of an Allah Upanishad. 

Several Upanishads occur in the later Brahmanas, 
but the recognized place for the most ancient of these 
works is in connection with the Aranyakas* (or forest 
books), which generally form an appendix to the 
Brahmanas, but are also sometimes included under the 
general name of Brahmana. 

The Upanishads belong to what the Hindus call the 
Sruti, or revealed literature, in opposition to Smriti, or 
traditional literature, which is supposed to be founded 
upon the former, and therefore can claim only a second- 
ary importance and authority. The first in the list is 


This work belongs to the Sama-veda, and is one of 

1 These works, as weU as the Upanishads, are so obscure that it is said to 
be necessary to read them in the loneliness of the forest 

2 Prof. Max Miiller, the translator, gives "ifAandogya" as the orthog 
raphy of this Upanishad and this is of course absolutely correct, but, if 

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the most important contributions to the orthodox phil- 
osophy of India, viz., the Vedanta. This important 
Upanishad purports to give a full account of the sylla- 
ble Om. The opening sentence is *^Let a man medi- 
tate on the syllable Om — called the udgitha, for the 
udgitha (a portion of the Sama-veda) is sung begin- 
ning with Om.^^ 

This sacred syllable has been the source of no little 
trouble and perplexity on the part of European scholars, 
as it had to be pronounced at the beginning of each 
Veda, and at every recitation of Vedic hymns. As 
connected with the Sama-veda, Om is called udgitha. 
Miiller says that the syllable originally meant ^*thaf or 
^^yes," but it is also considered the symbol of all 
speech and of all life. It is also the name for all 
physical and mental powers ; also the principle of life, 
or living spirit, which is identified with the spirit in 
the sun. Therefore, he who meditates upon Om, 
meditates on the spirit in man as identical with the 
spirit in nature, or in the sun, and thus he is supposed 
to be led to a recognition of the self in man as identi- 
cal with the highest self, or Brahman. 

Meditation on that syllable is supposed to mean the 
long-continued repetition of it, until the mind is drawn 
away from all other subjects and concentrated upon 
a higher object of thought, which is symbolized by the 
sacred syllable. The exposition of Om, or of udgitha, 
as given by this Upanishad, is as follows: "The full 

this method of transliteration is followed, the first two letters must always 
be italicized or else the K will be pronounced like the English K, whereas it 
should be pronounced like ch in church. Many scholars therefore prefer 
to write the name " Chandogya," as it is more liable to be correctly pro- 
nounced by the English reader. 

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account, however, of Om is this: The essence of all 
beings is the earth ; the essence of the earth is water ; 
the essence of water, the plants ; the essence of plants, 
man; the essence of man, speech; the essence of speech, 
the Rig-veda; the essence of the Rig-veda, the Sama- 
veda; the essence of the Sama-veda, the udgitha, 
(which is Om). That udgitha (Om) is the best of all 
essences, the highest, deserving the highest place, the 
eighth. ... By that syllable does the threefold 
knowledge (the sacrifice, more particularly the Sama- 
sacrifice, as founded on the three Vedas) proceed. 
When the Adhvaryu priest gives an order, he says Om. 
When the Hotri priest recites, he says Om. When the 
Udgatri priest sings, he says Om — all for the glory of 
that syllable. 

^*The threefold knowledge (the sacrifice) proceeds 
by the greatness of that syllable (the vital breaths), and 
by its essence (the oblations). Now, therefore, it 
would seem to follow that both he who knows this (the 
true meaning of the syllable Om) and he who does 
not, perform the same sacrifice; but this is not so, 
for knowledge and ignorance are different. The sacri- 
fice which a man performs with knowledge, faith, and 
the Upanishad, is more powerful. This is the full ac- 
count of the syllable Om.^^^ 

There were three classes of priests engaged in the 
soma sacrifices, and each one was obliged to begin his 
part of the ceremonial with Om, therefore the whole 
sacrifice was said to be dependent on that syllable, 

1 1st Prap.— Ist Khan. 

The quotations from the IJpanishads, unless otherwise indicated, are 
from MUller's translations. 

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and for the glory of that syllable as an emblem of the 
Highest Self, the knowledge of whom is the indirect 
result of all sacrifices. The great importance of this 
syllable is expressed by the vital breaths of the priest, 
the sacrificer and his wife. 

The essence of the syllable is supposed to be many 
things: for instance, the rice and corn and other arti- 
cles used in the oblation. The sacrifice which is de- 
pendent upon the syllable Om is supposed to ascend 
to the sun, and as the sun sends rain, and rain pro- 
duces food, and food produces life, breath and food 
are due to the syllable Om. This syllable seems to have 
been used on all occasions, both in sacrifice and in 
fables, sometimes apparently without meaning, as in 
the 12th Khanda of the 1st Prapa/Aaka. 

1. ^^Now follows the udgitha of the dogs. Vaka 
Dalbhya . . . went out to repeat the Veda in a 
quiet place. 

2. ** A white dog appeared before him, and other dogs 
gathered around him (the white dog), and said to him, 
'Sir, sing and get us food, we are hungry.' 

3. *^The white dog said to them, ^Come to me to- 
morrow morning.' Vaka Dalbhya watched. 

4. "The dogs came on, holding together, each dog 
keeping the tail of the preceding dog in his mouth, 
as the priests do (hold each other's garments) when 
they are going to sing praises with the Vahish-pavamana 
hjmins. After they had settled down, they began to 
say Hin. 

5. "Om let us eat. Om let us drink. Om may 
the divine Varuna-pra^dpati Savitri bring us food. 
Lord of food, bring hither food, bring it Om." 

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Here it is represented as being used by dogs in 
order to obtain their food, but the Manda closes as 
abruptly as it began and gives no information as to 
whether they received the food or not. The allusion 
to the priests in the fourth verse applies to the cere- 
mony where the priests have to walk in procession, 
each holding the gown of his predecessor. Varuna 
(the sky) and Prsj^dpati (year), alluded to in verse 5, 
are explained as different appellations of Savitfi (the 
sun), meaning rain-giver and man-protector. The sylla- 
ble Om is elsewhere explained as representing all the 
deities of the earth, the air, and the sky. 


The Kena or Talavakdra was one of the Upanishads 
published in English by Eammohun Roy. It was also 
published in Germany, and has been more or less in- 
vestigated by many scholars. The prominence given 
to this important Upanishad both by native and 
European scholars, would seem to justify the quotation 
of the 1st Manda: 

1. "The pupil asks: ^At whose wish does the mind 
sent forth proceed on its errand ? At whose command 
does the first breath go forth ? At whose wish do we 
utter this speech ? What god directs the eye or the 
ear ?^ 

2. " The teacher replies : ^ It is the ear of the ear 
— the mind of the mind — the speech of the speech — 
the breath of the breath — and the eye of the eye. 
When freed (from the senses) the wise on departing 
from this world become immortal. 

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3. "The eye does not go thither, nor speech, nor 
mind. We do not know, we do not understand, how 
any one can teach it, 

4. ** It is different from the known; it is also above 
the unknown. Thus have we heard from those of old, 
who taught us this. 

5. " That which is not expressed by speech, and by 
which speech is expressed, that alone, known as Brah- 
man, not that which people here adore. 

6. "That which does not think by mind, and by 
which they say mind is thought, that alone, known as 
Brahman, not that which people here adore. 

7. "That which does not see by the eye, and by 
which one sees (the work of) the eyes, that alone, 
known as Brahman, not that which people here adore. 

8. "That which does not hear by the ear, and by 
which the ear is heard, that alone, known as Brahman, 
not that which people here adore. 

9. "That which does not breathe by breathy and by 
which breath is drawn, that alone, known as Brahman, 
not that which people here adore.'* 

This peculiar metaphysical work closes with the de- 
claratioQ that "The feet upon which the Upanishad 
stands are penance — restraint — sacrifice. The Vedas 
are all its limbs. The True is its abode. 

"He who knows this Upanishad, and has shaken off 
all evil, stands in the endless unconquerable world of 
heaven — yea, in the world of heaven.** 


This is one of the oldest and most important of 
these books, and is quite familiar to European students 

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of Sanskjit. It formed part of the Persian translation, 
was rendered into English by Eammohun Roy, and has 
been quoted by many scholars as one of the most per- 
fect specimens of the mystic philosophy and poetry of 
the ancient Hindus. 

This document opens with the story of Na6iketas. 
The father of this unfortunate youth had given all of 
his property to the priests and devoted his son to 

Naciketas is represented as going to the abode of 
Yama, the King of Death, by whom he is kindly re- 
ceived. He is requested to choose three boons. For 
the first boon, the boy chose that he might be restored 
to life and see his reconciled father once more; for 
the second that he might know the fire by which heaven 
is gained; for the third he requested the King of Death 
to teach him whether or not the soul existed after 
death. Yama entreated him to choose any other boon 
than this, but the youth persisting in his demand to 
be enlightened upon this subject, Yama finally explained 
the matter to him in the following language: 

*^The good, the pleasant — these are separate ends — 
The one or the other all mankind pursues; 
But those who seek the good alone are blest; 
Who choose the pleasant miss man^s highest aim. 
The sage the truth discerns — not so the fool. 
But thou, my son, with wisdom hath abandoned 
The fatal road of wealth that leads to death. 
Two other roads there are, all wide apart. 
Ending in widely different goals — the one 
Called ignorance, the other knowledge — this. 

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Naciketafi, thou dost well to choose. 

The foolish follow ignorance, but think 

They tread the road of wisdom, circling round 

With erring steps — like blind men led by blind. 

The careless youth, by lust of gain deceived. 

Knows but one world, one life; to him the Now 

Alone exists, the Future is a dream. 

The highest aim of knowledge is the soul. 

This is a miracle beyond the ken 

Of common mortals, thought of though it be, 

And variously explained by skilful teachers. 

Who gains this knowledge is a marvel, too. 

He lives above the cares — the griefs and joys 

Of time and sense — seeking to penetrate 

The fathomless unborn, and eternal essence. 

The slayer thinks he slays, the slain 

Believes himself destroyed; the thoughts of both 

Are false, the soul survives, nor kills, nor dies; 

Tis subtler than the subtlest, greater than 

The greatest — infinitely small, yet vast. 

Asleep, yet restless, moving everywhere 

Among the bodies — ever bodiless. 

Think not to grasp it by the reasoning mind. 

The wicked ne^er can know it. Soul alone 

Knows soul; to none but soul is soul revealed.^^^ 

Thus is the immortality of the soul distinctly taught 
in this Upanishad; but the soul is represented as being 
asleep, yet moving restlessly everywhere. It is also 
stated that the ^^ wicked ne^er can know it,^' thereby 
broadly hinting that only the good are immortal; it 

1 Williams' trans., Ind. Wis., p. 48. 

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is perhaps as lucid an explanation of a future life as 
we could expect to receive from Yama, the King of 


This Upanishad which wafe translated for the "Bib- 
liotheca Indica" by Dr. Roer, appears to be almost hope- 
lessly mixed with the Aranyakas or forest books, and 
the first chapter is simply a continuation of the Aita- 

Sayana speaks of the Aitareya-aranyaka as a part of 
the Brahmana, and Sankara, who is a still earlier au- 
thority, conveys the idea that both the Upanishad and 
the Aranyaka may be classed as Brahmana. 

In this Upanishad we find much repetition of mat- 
ter which, even at first, was useless and absurd. For 
instance, in relation to men and deities, it is said: "By 
repeating the first verse three times they (men) become 
twenty-five. The trunk is the twenty-fifth, and Pra^- 
dpati (the year) is the twenty-fifth. There are ten fin- 
gers on his hands, ten toes on his feet; two legs, two 
arms and the trunk, the twenty-fifth. Now this day 
consists of twenty-five, and the stoma hymn of that day 
consists of twenty-five. It becomes the same through 
the same. Therefore, the two, the day and the hymn, 
are twenty-five. This is the twenty-fifth with regard 
to the body. Next, with regard to the deities: The 
eye, the ear, the mind, the speech and breath — these 
five deities (powers) — have entered into that person 
(purusha), and that person entered into the five dei- 
ties. He is wholly pervaded there with his limbs to 
the very hairs and nails. Therefore, all beings, to the 

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very insects, are born as pervaded (by the deities or 


This Upanishad discourses upon the future life and 
teaches that all who leave this world (or this body) go 
to the moon. Those who reach the light half of the 
moon meet with a glad reception, for ^^the moon de- 
lights in their spirits/^ while those who reach the dark 
half are not joyously received, but are sent on to be 
born again. The moon is represented as the door to 
the heavenly world. If a man objects to her, she 
sets him free ; but if the man does not object, she 
sends him down as rain upon the earth. His next 
birth is favorable or otherwise, in direct proportion to 
his virtue and wisdom ; he may be bom as a worm or 
an insect ; as a fish or a bird ; as a lion, or a boar, or a 
serpent. He may assume the shape of a tiger or a 
man. He may happen to be in favorable or unfavor- 
able localities, and he is as likely to be found in hell 
as anywhere else. If, upon returning to the earth in 
any of these forms, any one asks him from whence he 
came, he is to reply: ^^From the wise moon, who or- 
ders the seasons — when it is born consisting of fifteen 
parts — from the moon who is the home of our ances- 
tors. . . Therefore, ye seasons, grant that I may attain 
immortality (knowledge of Brahman), by this my true 
saying, by this my toil. I am like a season, and the 
child of the seasons. ^Who art thou ?^ the sage asks 

1 Ist Aran., 3 Adhy., 8 Khan. 

2 This work was translated for the " Bibliotheca ludica " by Prof. CoweU 
of Cambridge. 

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again. 'I am thou/ he replies. Then he sets him 
free to proceed onward. ^^^ 


The peculiar character of this book appears to be 
the recognition of the necessity of good works as a 
preparation for the reception of the highest knowledge. 
The doctrine that the moment a man is enlightened 
he becomes free, as taught in the other Upanishads, 
led (according to Miiller) to a rejection of all disci- 
pline and a condemnation of all sacrifices, which could 
hardly have been tolerated in the last chapter of the 
Yajur-veda Samhita. 

In this Upanishad Brahman is called h, or lord ; it 
treats of the demoniacal and sunless worlds, to which 
all go who have lost their identity. It is said that 
^^AU who worship what is not true cause enter into 
blind darkness. Those who delight in true cause enter, 
as it were, into greater darkness. ^^ 

*^One thing they say is obtained from (knowledge 
of) the cause, another, they say, from (knowledge of) 
what is not the cause. . . He who knows at the same 
time both the cause and the destruction (the perisha- 
ble body) overcomes death by destruction (the perisha- 
ble body), and obtains immortality through (knowledge 
of) the true cause. . . Breath to air and to the immortal. 
Then this my body ends in ashes, Om ! Mind, remem- 
ber ! Remember thy deeds ! Mind, remember ! Remem- 
ber thy deeds ! '' 

I l8t Adhy., 2, 

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This is a very short Upanishad which has been 
translated by Max Muller, and also by Sir Wm. Jones 
and Dr. Roer, but we here give the poetical rendering 
by Sir Monier Williams of about half the work. 

*' Whatever exis^ within this universe 
Is all to be regarded as enveloped 
By the great Lord, as if wrapped in a vesture. 
Eenounce, man, the world, and covet not 
Another^s wealth, so shalt thou save thy soul. 
Perform religious works, so mayst thou wish 
To live a hundred years ; in this way only 
Mayst thou engage in worldly acts untainted. 
To worlds immersed in darkness, tenanted 
By evil spirits shall they go at death 
Who in this life are killers of their souls. 
There is one only Being who exists 
Unmoved, yet moving swifter than the mind ; 
Who far outstrips the senses, though as gods 
They strive to reach him ; who himself at rest 
Transcends the fleetest flight of other beings; 
Who like the air, supports all vital action. 
He moves, yet moves not ; he is far, yet near ; 
He is within this universe, and yet 
Outside this universe ; whoe'er beholds 
All living creatures as in him, and him — 
The universal spirit — as in all. 
Henceforth regards no creature with contempt. 
The man who understands that every creature 
Exists in God alone, and thus perceives * 
The unity of being, has no grief 

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And no illusion. He, the all-pervading, 
Is brilliant, without body, sinewless. 
Invulnerable, pure, and undefiled 
By taint of sin ; he also is all- wise. 
The Ruler of the mind, above all beings. 
The Self-existent. He created all things 
Just as they are from all eternity. ^^^ 

There are many other Upanishads, but an examina- 
tion of these extracts will give an idea of their general 
literary character, and the tenor of their teachings, as a 

These treatises were considered the completion of 
revelation ; they were held to be a very important 
portion of the Veda, or knowledge, and in the esti- 
mation of their best thinkers, like Rammohun Roy, 
they were by far the most important portion, being 
the grandest and noblest utterances of the Veda — 
the point to which all previous revelation tended. 

The three grand divisions of Vedic literature which 
have been discussed under the heads of Mantra, Brah- 
mana and Upanishad, all come under the hea^ of 
^ruti — that which is directly heard or revealed. The 
voice of divine knowledge heard by the Rishis, or 
sages, and by them either orally transmitted or written 
down exactly as heard. 

We shall now consider the teaching of these oracles 
upon the most important doctrinal points of the Hindu 
faith. Too much care and discrimination cannot be 
used in the examination of this subject, in view of the 
fact that they are considered the most vital portion of 
the Veda. 

iInd.Wis., p.38. 

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IT has been claimed by some that the Fpanishads 
are devoted to the worship of the one God — the 
Supreme — who bears the name of the Highest Self — 
Brahman. But here again, as in other portions of the 
Vedas, the monotheism, upon closer examination, seems 
to be simple pantheism. In other words, there is only 
one Being in the universe, and that is the universe 
itself. This being is also thought of as the one TJni- 
versal Soul, with which all existing material substances 
are identified, and into which the souls must be ulti- 
mately merged. 

^^This,^' says Williams, *^is the pantheistic doctrine, 
everywhere traceable in some of the more ancient 
Upanishads. It is often wrapped up in mystic lan- 
guage and fantastic allegory, but in the Ohandogya 
Upanishad is found the following simple 


" ^AU this universe indeed is Brahma; from him does 


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it proceed; into him it is dissolved; in him it breathes, 
so let every one adore him calmly/''* 

It is also taught that ^^This whole is Brahma, from 
Brahma to a clod of earth. Brahma is both the effi- 
cient and the material cause of the world. He is the 
potter by whom the vase is formed; he is the clay from 
which it is fabricated. Everything proceeds from him, 
without waste or diminution of the source, as light ra- 
diates from the sun. Everything merges into him 
again, as bubbles bursting mingle with the air — as 
rivers fall into the ocean. Everything proceeds from 
and returns to him, as the web of the spider is emit- 
ted from and retracted into itself.'' * 


Brahma, as the Supreme God, is represented as dy- 
ing, and in strict accordance with the pantheistic creed 
so generally taught, the whole universe expires with him, 
to be reorganized again when the Supreme God comes 
again from the death state 

The Devas, or deities, are also frequently mentioned, 
and many of the descriptions of God are so absurd that 
the student of Vedic literature wonders what kind of 
a conception the writer could have had of an Infinite 
Creator. He is sometimes represented as being the 
guardian of the world — having swallowed the others. 
It is also claimed that he is the self of the Devas (or 
gods), the creator of all. He is represented as having 
golden tusks; he is called '^the eater," and is said to 
be ^^not without intelligence." '*His greatness is said 

iChan. Upa., 8-14, Williams' trans. 2 Wilson, Vol. II, p. 95. 

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to be great indeed, becaase without being eaten, he eats 
even what is not food/^* It is claimed that though 
mortals see him not, he sees and knows them. He is 
the god who, as Vayu, swallows all the gods, but pro- 
duces them again, and who swallows during sleep all 
senses, but produces them again at the time of waking. 


Satyakama, a religious student, is said to have re- 
ceived the following expositions of the feet of Brah- 
man' from a bull, from fire (Agni), from a flamingo, 
and from a diver bird, respectively. *^The bull of 
the herd said to him * ... I will declare to 
you one foot of Brahman . . . The eastern 
region is one quarter, the western region is one quar- 
ter, the southern region is one quarter, the northern 
region is one quarter. This is the foot of Brahman 
and called Praka^avat (endowed with splendor). He 
who knows this and meditates on the foot of Brah- 
man consisting of four quarters, by the name of Prak- 
a^avat, becomes endowed with splendor in this world. 
He conquers the resplendent worlds, whoever knows 
this and meditates on the foot of Brahman consisting 
of four quarters by the name of Prakasavat.^ 

^^ After these words of the bull, Satyakama on the 
morrow drove the cows toward the house of the teacher, 
and when they came towards the evening he lighted 
a fire, penned the cows, and sat down behind the fire, 
looking toward the east. Then Agni (the fire) said 

1 Chan. Upa., 4-3. 

2 In the Code of Manu the name of Brahman Is applied to the su- 
preme Being, while Brahma Is called the creator of the universe— Brah 
man (the Highest Self) being the neuter form. 

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to him, * ... I will declare unto you one foot 
of Brahman . . . The earth is one quarter, 
the sky is one quarter, the heaven is one quarter, 
the ocean is one quarter. This is the foot of Brah- 
man, consisting of four quarters, and called Ananta- 
vat (endless). He who knows this and meditates on 
the foot of Brahman by the name of Anantavat, be- 
comes endless in this world. He conquers endless 
worlds, whoever knows this and meditates on the foot 
of Brahman consisting of four quarters, by the name 
of Anantavat.* 

^*After these words of Agni, Satyakama on the morrow 
drove the cows onward, and when they came towards 
the evening, he lighted a fire, penned the cows 

and sat down behind the fire, looking toward 
the east. Then a Hamasa (flamingo, meant for the 
sun), flew near and said to him ;••••! will 
declare unto you one foot of Brahman 
Fire is one quarter, the sun is one quarter, the moon 
is one quarter, lightning is one quarter. This is the 
foot of Brahman consisting of four quarters, called 
Gyotishmat (full, of light). He who knows this and 
meditates on the foot of Brahman consisting of four 
quarters, by the name of Gyotishmat, becomes full of 
light in this world. He conquers worlds which are 
full of light, whoever knows this and meditates on 
the foot of Brahman consisting of four quarters, by the 
name of Gyotishmat.' 

"After these words of the Hamasa, Satyakama on 
the morrow drove the cows onward, and when they 
came towards evening he lighted a fire, penned the cows, 
and sat down behind the fire, looking toward the east. 

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Then a diver (bird) flew near and said to him, * • • 
. I will declare unto you one foot of Brahman 
Breath is one quarter, the eye is one quarter, 
the ear is one quarter, the wind is one quarter. This 
is the foot of Brahman, consisting of four quarters and 
called Ayatanavat (having a home). He who knows 
this and meditates on the foot of Brahman, consisting 
of four quarters, by the name of Ayatanavat, becomes 
possessed of a home in this world. He conquers the 
worlds which offer a home, whoever knows this and 
meditates on the foot of Brahman, consisting of four 
quarters, by the name of Ayatanavat. ^^^^ 


Vishnu, especially in the Puranas, is often addressed 
as the Supreme God, who is described under all the 
different forms of this deity. Only a few years since, 
one of the finest literary men in India commenced a 
paper with an earnest invocation to the '^ Heavenly 
Boar.'^ In this form it said that his feet were the 
Vedas, his tusks the sacrificial stakes ; his teeth were 
the offerings ; his mouth was the pyre ; his tongue was 
the fire ; his hair was the sacrificial grass ; the sacred 
texts were his head ; his eyes were day and night ; his 
ears were the two bundles of Kusa grass; his earrings 
were the two ends of those two bundles of Kusa grass ; 
his nose the clarified butter ; his snout was the ladle of 
oblations. . . . The Lord, the Creator, the great 
Yogin* — plunging into the one ocean from love of the 
world — raised up by the edge of his tusks the earth 

1 Chan. Upa., 4th Prap., 5-8 Khan. 

2 In the character of "lord of abstract meditation" ^Slva is called Yogin. 

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bounded by the sea, together with its mountains, for- 
ests, and groves, which was immersed in the water of 
the one ocean, and created the universe anew. 


One of the most modern Upanishads (the ^vetaS- 
vatara)* represents the Supreme God as having a thou- 
sand heads, and also describes the hydra-headed deity 
as having a thousand eyes and a thousand feet — one 
eye and one foot for each head. The quotation is as 
follows : 

"The perfect spirit with a thousand heads, 
A thousand eyes, a thousand feet, the ruler 
Of all that is, that was, that is to be. 
Diffused through endless space, yet of the measure 
Of a man's thumb, abiding in the heart. 
Known only by the heart. Whoever knows him 
Gains everlasting peace and deathlessness.^'* 

Although the Supreme Being is here represented 
as having a superfluity of heads and feet, he is des- 
cribed in another Upanishad as being entirely without 
body or mind, as in the following extract: 

"That heavenly Person is without body, without 
ireath and without mind — pure, higher than the high 
Imperishable. From him, (when entering on creation), 
is bom breath, mind, and all organs of sense; ether, 
air, light, water, and the earth, the support of all. 

1 The word signifies " white mule," and as mules have been known and 
prized In India from the eariiest time, the name is not considered inap- 
propriate for either a Upanishad or a person. 

2 Williams' trans. 

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Fire (the sky) is his head; his eyes, the sun and moon; 
the quarters, his ears; his speech, the Vedas disclosed; 
the wind, his breath ; his heart, the universe ; from his 

feet came the earth Brahman the highest 

immortal. He who knows this, friend, scatters 
the knot of ignorance here on earth/' ^ 


It appears, therefore, that the monotheism of the 
Upanishads represents the Supreme Being in the most 
repellent forms, and also that the great underlying 
principle of Upanishad theology is one of the cardinal 
doctrines of Hindu teaching, viz., pure pantheism. 

"As golden bracelets are in substance one 
With gold, so are all visible appearances. 
And each distinct existence one with Brahma.'' 

This pantheistic creed is traceable even in the Rig- 
veda, and it gathers force all the way down the stream 
of Hindu literature. The Upanishads, both ancient 
and modern, teach the same doctrine. It is re-echoed 
by both of the great epic poems, and finally presented 
in the strongest colors, amidst the endless mythologies 
and theogonies of the Puranas. Thus the Vedic creed 
upon this subject is simplified into a belief in the unity 
of all existing beings. But while this doctrine is 
everywhere traceable in Hindu literature, we find side 
by side with it in all their later works a pantheon 
containing three hundred and thirty millions of deities, 
many of them engaged in the most terrible conflicts 
with one another. 

1 Mufielaka Upa., 1st Khan. 

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THE various cosmogonies of the Hindus are so absurd 
in their theories, and so contradictory in themselves, 
that the historian shrinks from the repetition of them. 
But justice has no choice ; her decisions are inevitable, 
and the only fair verdict that can be rendered must 
come from an examination of the books themselves. 
Hence, we give 


in relation to the theory of the sun's origin : 


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1. "Aditya (the sun) is Brahman; this is the doc- 
trine, and this is the fuller account of it : In the begin- 
ning this was non-existent. It became existent — it grew. 
It turned into an egg ; the egg lay for the time of 
a year; the egg broke open. The two halves were 
one of silver, the other of gold. 

2. " The silver one became this earth ; the golden 
one, the sky; the thick membrane (of the white), the 
mountains ; the thin membrane (of the yolk), the 
mist with the clouds ; the small veins, the rivers ; the 
fluid, the sea. 

3. " And what was born from it ? That was 
Aditya, the sun. When he was born shouts of hurrah 
arose, and all beings arose, and all things which they 
desired. Therefore, whenever the sun rises and sets, 
shouts of hurrah arise, and all beings arise, and all 
things which they desire.*^* 


This mundane egg is a little differently presented 
by Manu. 

The collected wisdom found in his laws represents 
the universe as first existing in darkness, as if immersed 
in sleep. Then the Self-existent, having willed to 
produce various beings from his own substance, first 
with a thought created the waters and placed upon 
them a productive seed, or egg. Then he himself was 
born in that egg, in the form of Brahma. ]N"ext, he 
caused the egg to divide itself, and out of its two 
divisions formed the heaven above and the earth be- 
neath. Afterwards, having divided his own substance, 

14th Prap., 1 Khan. 

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he became half male and half female^ and that female 
produced Viraj, from whom was created Manu^ the 
secondary progenitor of all things.* 

In the Vishnu-purana we learn that there is a 
great multitude of these cosmic eggs, and it is said 
that the boundless cause of all things — ^the Supreme 
Prakjriti — ^is ^^the cause of all mundane eggs, of which 
there are thousands, and tens of thousands, and mill- 
ions, and tens of millions.'^' 

The elements of the primary forms thus developed 
from these cosmic eggs are supposed to remain un- 
changed during a single 


which consists of two billion, one hundred and sixty 
millions of years. At the end of this time Brahma 
is represented as sleeping. The contents of this 
world and also of the other spheres of the universe 
are consumed by fire during his sleep. The fire is 
then extinguished by such heavy and long-continued 
rains that a universal cataclysm is produced, and 
a shoreless ocean engulfs all life, except the sages and 
the gods, who have managed to escape the fire and 
the deluge. 


Brahma finds, however, that the elements still 
exist, and by skilful combinations of these he soon 
creates anew the earth and its inhabitants. For some 
unexplained reason, it is found necessary for Brahma 
to repeat this creation every day during the hundred 

1 For a further elucidation of this cosmic egg see Chap. XXII of this 
Yolume. 2 vish. Pur., Vol. II, p. 282, Wilson's trans. 

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years of his life, the sum total of his existence being 
311,400,000,000,000 years, a number quite beyond the 
ordinary comprehension. During these intervals of 
creation he is supported on the thousand heads of 


For this reason the Nagas, or serpent demons are 
held sacred in India. A particular day is devoted to 
them, and a festival is kept in their honor about the 
end of July. The lower regions are supposed to be 
peopled with serpents, all of them having jewels in 
their heads. The never-failing imagination of the 
Hindu has furnished names for all the chiefs of the 
serpent tribe, and these are supposed to rule over the 
snakes on the earth as well as those in the lower 


At the close of the enormous periods presented as 
the sum of the hundred years of Brahma's life, Brahma 
himself expires, and with him the other gods, when 
every form of the world has been resolved back to pri- 
mary matter, or primary spirit, according to the differ- 
ent theories of various philosophies. 


But the Hindu mystic is not long left without a 
world. Similar causes again produce similar results 
and the whole programme of creation is repeated. Thus 
the whole universe fluctuates between existence and 
non-existence throughout the ages of eternity. 

In the Chandogya Upanishad it is said that ^*In 

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the beginning there was the mere state of being — only 
one without a second. . . It willed, *I shall multi- 
ply and be bom,' It created water. The water willed, 
^ I shall multiply and be born.^ It created aliment. 
Therefore, whenever rain falls much aliment is pro- 
duced. That deity willed, ^Entering these three divin- 
ities I shall develop name and form.'^'^ 


An explanation of the mode in which the will of 
Brahma operates, seems never to have been attempted. 
He wills creation to be, and it is ; still, various schools 
of India seem to unite in according to matter the 
property of eternal existence, and also claim that it is 
indestructible— the most of the Hindu sages having 
advocated the doctrine of ex nihilo nihil. All of these 
schools agree in advocating the infinity and eternal 
succession of creation, and the periodical dissolution 
and reorganization of the world. 


At times these books teach instead of a creation, a 
system of evolution in its clearest type. First, there 
was simple matter, then being sprang out of non-being, 
and finally Brahma became the universe. Says Prof. 
Duncker, Brahma, according to the Vedanta, ''is the 
one eternal self-existent essence, unutterable and un- 
changeable. It develops into the world and is thus 
creative and created. As milk curdles, as water be- 
comes snow and ice, Brahma congeals with matter. '^ ^ 

1 Chan. Upa., 6-g, WiUiams' trans. 2 Hist, of Antlq., Vol. IV, p. 800. 

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The coemography which is taaght in the Maha-bha- 
rata, and afterwards adopted by the Puranas, divides 
the earth into seven concentric circles or rings, each 
of which is stirrounded by a circumambient ocean or 
belt, which separates it from the next annular continent. 
The first ocean is a sea of salt water; the second is 
composed of the juice of the sugar cane ; the third, of 
wine ; the fourth, of clarified butter ; the fifth, of 
curdled milk; the sixth, of sweet milk; and the seventh, 
of fresh water. In the center of this vast annular sys- 
tem a mountain called Meru rises to the height of sixty- 
four thousand miles/ 

These seven circumambient worlds are supposed to 
rest on the thousand heads of the serpent §esha, which 
support the Supreme Being in the intervals between 
the creative acts, and which also support the worlds 
which are created at the commencement of each 
Kalpa, or two billion, one hundred and sixty millions 
of years. 

It is claimed in the Ramayana that the earth is 
supported on the heads and backs of sixteen immense 
elephants ; eight of these are males and eight are 
females. In order to be explicit, the names of the ele- 
phants are given ^ and it is said that when one of them 
shakes his body the motion produces earthquakes. 
Hence, it is fair to suppose that if they all happened 
to shake their bodies at the same time, a universal 
earthquake would be the result. 

1 Vlsh. Pur., Wilson's trans., p. 166. 2 ind. Wis., p. 430. 

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There are almost as many creations in Hindu litera- 
ture as there are gods in the pantheon, the most of them 
being represented as creators ; for as the Hindus have 
the past eternity filled with successive creative acts, 
there is time enough for each deity to assume the part 
of Brahma in the work of creation. The Vishnu-purana 
gives an eloquent description of the process of recon- 
struction by Vishnu. This deity, who is repeatedly 
addressed as the Supreme Being, is described as a huge 
boar, a thousand yojanas (forty-five hundred miles) in 
height, and ten yojanas (forty-five miles) in breadth. 
He had the color of a dark cloud ; his roar was like 
thunder ; his bulk vast as a mountain ; his tusks white, 
sharp, and fearful. Fire flashed from his eyes like 
lightning, and he was radiant as the sun. His should- 
ers were round, fat, and large, and he strode along 
like a powerful lion. 

This ^^ auspicious supporter of the world,^^ whose 
eyes were like the lotus after receiving hymns of praises, 
emitted a low murmuring sound, like the chanting of the 
Sama-veda, and uplifted the earth from the lower regions 
by means of his ample tusks. As he raised his enormous 
head from the water the drops which fell therefrom 
purified the great sages, Sanandana, and others resid- 
ing in the sphere of the saints. Through the indenta- 
tions made with his hoofs, the water rushed into the 
lower worlds with a thundering noise, while the Munis 
sought for shelter among his sacred bristles as he rose 
up supporting the earth and dripping with moisture. 
Then the great sages were inspired with delight, and 

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bowing lowly they praised the stem-eyed upholder of 
the earth.* 


These wild theories and cosmogonies illustrating 
the absurdities of the human imagination, present a 
startling contrast to the books of Genesis and Job, 
which were written at a much earlier date. In direct 
proportion to the development of science the admira- 
tion of scientists has been challenged for these primi- 
tive works. The wonderful accuracy of JoVs allusions 
to physical laws made a powerful impression upon the 
mind of Baron Von Humboldt, who expresses himself 
as follows : 


^' Similar views of the Cosmos occur repeatedly in 
the Psalms and most fully perhaps in the 37th chapter 
of the ancient, if not ante-Mosiac, book of Job. The 
meteorological processes which take place in the atmos- 
phere, the formation and solution of vapor according 
to the changing direction of the wind, the play of its 
colors, the generation of hail, and the rolling thunder, 
are all described with individualizing accuracy. And 
many questions are propounded which we, in the pres- 
ent state of physical knowledge, may indeed be able 
to express under more scientific definitions, but scarcely 
to answer satisfactorily. In all the modern languages 
into which the book of Job has been translated, its 
images drawn from the natural scenery of the East 

1 Vish.-Pur., Wilson's trans., p. 68. 

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leave a deep impression upon the mind. 'The Lord 
walketh on the height of the waters; on the ridges of 
the waves towering high beneath the face of the 
wind/ . . . And wo see the pure ether spread during 
the scorching heat of the south wind as a melted 
mirror over the parched desert. ^^* 


The Mosiac description of creation has been the 
marvel of Science ever since she has been able to com- 
prehend it. With a few bold outlines and graceful 
touches, the historian has given with fearless hand a 
cosmogony that has endured for ages the most search- 
ing light of investigation. It was written in a primi- 
tive age, when the crudest ideas were entertained in 
regard to nature's laws and general ignorance prevailed 
with reference to their cause and interpretation. For 
three thousand years it has been exposed to attack at 
every point and has been tested by every discovery of 
man. It has been challenged by the revelations of 
geology, chronology, and history. It has been ques- 
tioned by fossils from the depths of the earth and by 
the stars which gleam in the midnight heavens. But 
the record stands' to-day unimpeached in the estima- 
tion of the grandest minds of earth. We find in 
the past the testimonies of her Kepler, Bacon, and 
Newton, of her Priestley and Brewster, of her Dana, 
Von Kitter, Mitchell, and a host of others, while the 
ablest scientists of to-day are found in the same ranks, 
bringing glad tributes to the same great truth. 

The cosmogonies of India and Egypt, of Assyria and 

1 Cosmos, Vol. II, pp. 56-59, Otte's trans. 

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Persia, of Greece and Rome, and of the isles of the 
seas, have been canvassed in vain for satisfactory expo- 
sitions of physical law. 

The sublime sentence **In the beginning God 
created the heavens and the earth " stands forever with- 
out a rival in literature. It is the closed gateway be- 
tween the illimitable past and the long aisles of earthly 
time. In the dim vista beyond it lies a silence as pro- 
found as the primeval darkness that rested on the face 
of the deep. In a few brief sentences is given a 
graphic description of the great cycles of time, during 
which the stars were lighted and the earth was born. 
**And the earth was without form and void.^^ How 
long? The question is rolled backward through the 
halls of time, but its echoes bring no answer. Chro- 
nology has tried in vain to measure these cycles, and 
geology has opened her rock-bound pages, but her 
clear-cut inscriptions tell not of '* the beginning. ^^ God 
wrought alone in those grand periods, but tide and tor- 
rent, restless surge and burning mountain, were His 
agents. At last, through the unvarying laws of na- 
ture's God, a finished globe, with sunlit vales and snow- 
crowned mountains, with silvery streams and peaceful 
hills rolled in its orbit, while the morning stars sang 
together and all the sons of God shouted for joy. 

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THE philosophical systems of India seem to take 
little notice of man except in the abstract. It is 
easy, however, to detect through all the embellishments 
of Hindu literature, the tradition of the descent of 
mankind from a single pair. 

Brahma is repeatedly fabled to have divided himself 
into two creatures — one male and the other female — 
and from the union of these two one man and one 
woman were bom, from whom came not mankind 
alone, but all other living creatures as well. This gen- 
eral outline is found in the Vedas themselves, but it 
has been changed, remodeled, and repeated in a variety 
of shapes. 

The origin of the human species is sometimes 
strangely mixed up with the creation of the world. 
For instance, in the Upanishads we find the following 
expositions : 

** Adoration to the highest self, Hari, Om. 


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*^1. Verily in the beginning all this was self — one 
only there was; nothing else blinking (living) what- 

"2. He thought, 'Shall I send forth worlds?' 
He sent forth these worlds : 

^'3. Ambhas (water), mariAri (light), and mara 

"4. That Ambhas (water) is above the heaven; and 
it is heaven, the support. The mariyfcis (the lights), 
are the sky. The Mara (mortal) is the earth, and the 
waters under the earth are the Ap (world). 

^'5. He thought, 'There are these worlds; shall I 
send forth guardians of the worlds?' He then formed 
the Purusha (the person) taking him forth from the 

"6. He brooded on him, and when that person had 
thus been brooded on, a mouth burst forth like an 
egg. From the mouth proceeded speech; from speech, 
Agni (fire). 

''N"ostrils burst forth; from the nostrils proceeded 
scent ; from scent, air. 

"Eyes burst forth; from the eyes proceeded sight; 
from sight, Aditya (sun). 

''Ears burst forth; from the ears proceeded hear- 
ing; from hearing the Dis (quarters of the world). 

"Skin burst forth; from the skin proceeded hairs; 
from the hairs, shrubs and trees. The heart burst forth; 
from the heart proceeded mind, etc. • • • He 
thought, 'There are the worlds and the guardians of 
the worlds. Let me send forth food for them.' He 
brooded over water. From the water thus brooded on, 
matter was born • • • that verily was food. 

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When this food had been sent forth it wished to flee, 
crying and turning away. He (the subject) tried to 
grasp it by speech. If he had grasped it by speech, 
man would be satisfied by naming food. He tried to 
grasp it by scent. If he had grasped it by scent, 
man would have been satisfied by smelling food. He 
tried to grasp it by the eye ... If he had grasped 
it with the eye, man would have been satisfied by 
seeing food. He tried to grasp it with the ear 
. . If he had grasped it with the ear, man would 
have been satisfied by hearing food. He tried to grasp 
it by the skin ... If he had grasped it by the 
skin, man would be satisfied by touching food. He tried 
to grasp it by the mind ... If he had grasped 
it by the mind, man would have been satisfied by 
thinking of food. He tried to grasp it by the down 
breathing breath, which helps to swallow food by breath- 
ing through the mouth ... He got it.^^ Hence 
man is satisfied only by the eating of food.^ 

These endless vagaries are pursued through a wilder- 
ness of literature, apparently without thought or purpose. 
Vayu, the getter, is then represented as saying: *^How 
can all this be without me?^^ and then he thought 
"By what way shall I get there ?^^ Then opening the 
suture of the skull he got in by that door and found 
there were three dwelling places for him, viz. : the eye, 
the throat, and the heart. 

"When born (that is, when the Highest Self had 
entered the body), he looked through all things in or- 
der to see whether anything wished to proclaim here 

1 Aitareya Aran., II, 4, 2-3. 

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another (Self). He saw this person only (himself) as 
the widely spread Brahman. ^^ This verse is under- 
stood to mean that the Self looked carefully around 
in order to learn what there was which might pro- 
claim another self ; and when he saw there was noth- 
ing which did not come from himself, he recognized 
the fact that the person which he had created was the 
developed Brahman, the Atman — in other words, him- 
self. Again, we are taught that *^ Every man is in- 
deed like an egg; there are two halves of him. This 
half is the earth ; that half, heaven. And there be- 
tween them is the ether (the space of the mouth) like 
the ether between heaven and earth. In this ether 
there (in the mouth) the breath is fixed, as in that 
other ether the air is fixed. And as there are those 
luminaries (in heaven) there are these luminaries in 
man. As there is that sun in heaven, there is this eye 
in the head. As there is that lightning in the sky, 
there is this heart in the body.^^^ The half of man 
which represents the earth is that part from the feet 
to the lower jaw, and the part which represents heaven 
is the intellectual part found between the upper jaw 
and the skull. 


Created beings, although destroyed in their individ- 
ual forms, are never exempted from the consequences 
of their acts ; for whenever Brahma creates the world 
anew they are at the mercy of his will, either as gods, 
men, animals, or inanimate things. Brahma being de- 
sirous at one of these periods of creating gods, de- 

1 Aitareya, 2, 4-1. 

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mens, progenitors and men, collected his mind into it- 
self. Whilst thus concentrated, the quality of dark- 
ness pervaded his body, and the demons were born first, 
issuing from his thigh. Brahma then abandoned the 
form he had used, and the form thus abandoned became 
night. Then from his mouth proceeded gods, and the 
form which he then abandoned became day, for good- 
ness predominated in it. He next adopted another 
form, and the progenitors (the pitnis) were bom from 
his side, and the body which he then abandoned be- 
came the evening twilight. Brahma then assumed 
another body pervaded by foulness, and from this men 
were born, and the body thus abandoned became the 
morning twilight 

Thus gods, men, demons and progenitors were re- 
constructed from previous forms, and the bodies which 
Brahma abandoned became day, night, dawn and even- 
ing. Afterward the hairs of Brahma which were shriv- 
eled up, fell from his head and became serpents. The 
creator of the world, being incensed by the loss of his 
hair, created fierce beings who were denominated gob- 
lins; they were malignant fiends and eaters of flesh. 
The divine Brahma then created birds from his own 
vitality, sheep from his breast, goats from his mouth, 
cows from his sides, horses, elephants, and other 
animals from his feet, whilst from the hairs of his 
body grew herbs, roots, and plants. 


are accounted for in the Vishnu-purana by the following 
legend of Kudra : The mind-engendered progeny of 
Brahma were inspired with holy wisdom, and being 

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estranged from the world, they were not desirous of prog- 
eny. When Brahma perceived this '^ he was filled with 
wrath capable of consuming the three worlds ; the 
flame of his anger invested like a garland heaven, 
earth, and hell. Then from his forehead, darkened* with 
angry frowns, sprang Rudra, radiant as the noontide sun, 
fierce and of vast bulk, and of a figure which was half 
male and half female. ' Separate yourself,^ commanded 
Brahma. Obedient to the command, Ru3ra imme- 
diately disjoined his two natures and became twofold. 
His male being he again divided into eleven persons, 
of whom some were agreeable and some were hideous ; 
some were fierce and some were mild of disposition. 
He also multiplied his female nature manifold, some of 
them being of fair complexion and others very dark, 
or even black. ^^* 


The Upanishads also teach that the lower animals 
are descended from man, and seem to claim that degen- 
eracy is easier than improvement. The doctrine that 
the lower animals are the direct descendants of man is 
taught in the fourth Brahmana and also in the Upan- 
ishads, from which we quote as follows: 

'^In the beginning there was Self alone in the 
shape of a person (purusha), and looking around he saw 
nothing but his Self. He wished for a second. He 
then made this his Self to fall in two, and thence arose 
husband and wife.^^ 

Then men were born, and afterward the brute cre- 

1 Vlsh-Pur., Wilson's trans., p. 50. 

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ation, whose origin from degenerate man is expressed in 
the most explicit terms. ^^She became a cow 

hence cows were born. They then became one- 
hoofed animals . . . and one-hoofed animals 
were born . . . They became goats, and goats 
were born . . . They became sheep 

and sheep were born . . . and thus he 
created everything that exists in pairs, even down to 
the ants.'^ In this quotation the universal doc- 
trine of pantheism is presented in the following words : 
"He knew I, indeed, am this creation, for I created 
all this. Hence he became the creation, and he who 
knows this lives in his creation. ^^^ 

In intimate connection with this doctrine of devolu- 
tion, we find Prof. Wilson quoting the statement of the 
Commentator Madhwa, who asserts that in the compil- 
ation of his own work he consulted eight other com- 
mentaries, one of which was written by a monkey, and 
Prof. Wilson^s comment upon the statement is that 
" While the Hindu disputant may believe in the reality 
of such a compilation, yet we may receive its citation 
as a proof that Madhwa was not very scrupulous 5n 
the verification of his authorities.^^* 

There is a story in Hindu literature of a great drama 
in fourteen acts, composed by the monkey chief Han- 
uman, but it is claimed that this was not preserved, 
because Valmika feared that it would cast his poem 
(Ramayana) into the shade. Therefore the generous ape 
who wrote it threw it into the sea. 

We read, too, in the Ramayana of the ourang-outang 

1 Upanlshads, Part 2, pp. 86, 86 2 Wilson, Vol. VI, p. 49 of Int. 

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who lived on the banks of Lake Pampa. He is Su- 
griya, the king of the monkeys^ with whom Rama 
makes an alliance. Several of the monkey generals 
are mentioned, and a wonderful feat in bridge building 
by the privates of this strange army is recorded. 

If the Hindus believed that the monkeys wrote com- 
mentaries in the days of Madhwa and dramatic poems 
in the time of Valmika, that they commanded armies 
and built bridges, as recorded in the Ramayana, we 
cannot wonder that they feel that the theory of evolu- 
tion is working the other way — that degeneracy and 
not development is the law of nature, so far at least as 
the quadrumanous family is concerned ; and yet we find 
a certain class of the natives of India advocating the 
claims of the Sankhya philosophy. 

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THE Rig-veda, not being a doctrinal work, does not 
teach the theory of metempsychosis in any decided 
way. But there are frequent allusions to the immortality 
of the soul, and one of the hymns in the last Manijala is 
addressed to the spirits of departed ancestors, who have 
attained to a state of heavenly bliss and are supposed 
to occupy three stages of blessedness, the highest inhab- 
iting the upper sky, the middle the intermediate air, and 
the lowest the regions of the atmosphere near the earth. 


A most elaborate theory, however, of the transmi- 
gration of the souls of men through plants, animals, 
and gods, was inculcated in the Code of Manu, which, 
dates back to about 600 years B. 0. According to 


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Manu (12 : 3), every act and every thought produces 
either good or evil fruit, and the various transmigra- 
tions of men are the result of their conduct upon 
earth. A threefold alternative is presented to the soul : 
it may pass through deities, through men, or through 
beasts and plants. It will go through deities if good- 
ness predominates in its nature ; through men if it is 
ruled by passion ; through beasts and plants if it dwells 
still lower in the moral scale. Each of these three 
degrees of transmigration has three sub-degrees. The 
highest and first is Brahma himself, and the lowest is 
either a vegetable or a mineral. But souls in these 
latter forms may ascend through various insects, fish, 
reptiles, snakes, tortoises, etc.* ^^Let the man who 
has renounced the world reflect on the transmigration 
of men caused by their acts ; on their downfall into 
hell and their torments in the abode of Yama; on 
their formation again in the womb and the glidings of 
the soul through ten millions of other wombs. "^ 

A passage in the Satapatha-brahmana is quoted by 
Weber and Dr. Muir, asserting that in a future state 
animals and plants will revenge upon men the injuries 
and death received here. The absence of all memory 
of wrong done, and indeed of all consciousness of a 
former existence, does not appear to the Hindu as 
any objection to this creed which has been handed down 
to him through so many generations, although mythol- 
ogy claims to record cases where men were gifted with 
the power of remembering former existences. 

The Upanishads which contain the doctrinal teach- 
ings of the Vedas have not by any means neglected the 

1 Manu, 1 : 2-10. 26:61-63. 

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doctrine of metempsychosis, which forms so important 
a part of the Hindu faith. This doctrine is found and 
most enthusiastically taught in the very first of the 


This book, belonging to the Yajur-veda, has sup- 
plied the most important materials for what is called 
the Vedanta, which is the end, the purpose, and the 
highest object of the Veda. 

This Upanishad teaches that after various changes, 
the bodies of those who have performed good works 
are turned to water ; so that when a man is dead and 
his body burned, the water from the body rises upward 
with the smoke and carries him to the moon, where he 
enjoys the fruit of his good works as long as they last. 
When, like the oil in the lamp, they are consumed, he 
is obliged to return to a new round of existences. 

*^When born he (man) lives whatever the length 
of his life may be. When he has departed his friends 
carry him as appointed to the fire, from whence he 
came and from whence he sprang. '^^ 

1. *^ Those who know this, and those who in the 
forest follow faith and austerities go to light ; from 
light to day, from day to the light half of the moon ; 
from the light half of the moon to the six months 
when the sun goes to the north ; from the six months 
when the sun goes to the north, to the year ; from the 
year to the sun ; from the sun to the moon ; from the 
moon to the lightning. There is a person not human. 

1 5th Prap., 9th Khan. 

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2. *^He leads them to Brahman; this is the path 
of the Devas. 

3. ^'But they who living in a village practice 
sacrifices, works of public utility, and alms, they go to 
the smoke ; from smoke to night ; from night to the 
dark half of the moon ; from the dark half of the 
moon to the six months when the sun goes to the 
south ; but they do not reach the year. 

4. ^^From the months they go to the world of the 
fathers ; from the world of the fathers to the ether ; 
from the ether to the moon. That is Soma, the king. 
Here they are loved (eaten) by the Devas ; yes, the 
Devas love (eat) them. 

5. '' Having dwelt there till their good works are 
consumed, they return again the way they came to the 
ether; from the ether to the air. Then the sacrificer 
having become air, he becomes smoke. Having become 
smoke, he becomes mist. 

6. ^^ Having become mist, he becomes a cloud; 
having become a cloud, he rains down. Then he is 
bom as rice and corn, herbs, and trees, and beans. 
From thence the escape is beset with most difficul- 
ties, for whoever the persons may be who eat the 
food and beget offspring, he henceforth becomes like 
unto them. 

7. "Those whose conduct has been good will 
quickly attain to some good birth. But those whose 
conduct has been evil will quickly attain to an evil 
birth — the birth of a dog, or a hog. 

8. '^On neither of these two ways those small creat- 
ures (flies and worms) are continually returning, of 
whom it may be said, they live and die. Theirs is a 

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third place. Therefore, that world never becomes 
full. Hence, let a man take care to himself. ^^* 


In these stages of transmigration, the greatest danger 
is incurred after the man has been changed into rain. 
For if the rain should fall into the sea it might be 
swallowed up by the fishes ; if it should fall upon a 
desert it might be swallowed by serpents or other rep- 
tiles ; so that it would require an almost endless round 
of existences to reach any comfortable degree either of 
intelligence or dignity. But even if the rain is fortu- 
nate enough to be absorbed by the rice, the com, and 
the beans, these products might be eaten by a man 
who has foresworn marriage, in which case the victim 
of unfortunate circumstances would lose the opportu- 
nity of a new and more desirable birth. There are also 
perils, arising from the uncertain character of the man 
who eats the rice and corn, who thus becomes a new 
seed, and still another danger that even if he is good 
himself, he may marry a wicked wife, and make her 
the mother of this wandering soul. All these dangers 
must be safely passed before a new birth as a Brahman, 
Kshatriya, or Vaisya can be secured. 



Another peculiar distinction is made by Sankara 
in his commentary. There are some, he says, who 
assume the form of rice and corn, etc., not in their 
descent from a higher world, as described in the Upani- 

1 5th Prap., 14th Khan. 

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shad, but as a definite punishment for certain evil 
deeds which they have committed. They remain in 
that state until the consequences of their evil deeds 
are past, when they assume a new body, like caterpil- 
lars. These guilty ones retain a consciousness of these 
states and of the acts which caused them to assume 
the particular body which they wear. 
/ This is not the case with those who, in their de- 
scent from the moon, pass through the same vegetable 
forms ; for while in their ascent to the moon they are 
conscious, they lose this consciousness in coming down. 
Otherwise, a man who by his good works deserved re- 
wards in the moon would suffer while corn is being 
ground the very tortures of hell, and the object of 
good works, as taught by the Veda, would be defeated. 
As a man who is made unconscious by a severe blow, 
so it is with souls in their descent, until they are 
born again as men and thus get a new start toward 
the highest Brahman.^ 


The popular theory is that every being must pass 
through eighty-four lakhs of births, a lakh being one 
hundred thousand, making a grand total of eight mill- 
lion, four hundred thousand births for every human 
being. By this doctrine the Hindus easily explain 
all inequalities of fortune and all diversities of char- 
acter. The fortunate are supposed to be enjoying the 
benefits of their good deeds in a former life, while 
the unfortunate man, however virtuous he may be, is 
being punished for former misdeeds. Even intellect- 

1 Upanlsbads, Pt. I, pp. 81-88. 

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ual strength or ability in any given direction is sup- 
posed to have been acquired by careful training in some 
previous form of existence, and to have been cultivated 
through millions of previous bodies. Disease is looked 
upon as a legitimate punishment, not for disobedience 
to nature's laws, but for some sin committed in a pre- 
vious state — a murder, or the omission of some pen- 
ance, or some act of disrespect toward the priesthood. 


It is noticeable, however, that the ecclesiastical sins 
and offenses against caste are more severely punished 
than the crimes against morality. For instance, if a 
man steals grain, he will be born a mouse ; if he steals 
brass, he will be born a gander ; but if a Brahman neg- 
lects his own appointed caste, he will be born a vomit- 
eating demon. If a Kshatriya violates the rules of his 
caste, he will be born a demon, feeding on excrement and . 
dead bodies. If a Vaisya is guilty of the same offense, 
he will become a demon, feeding on putrid carrion. 


But there is no crime so heinous that it cannot be 
forgiven, provided only the criminal is a priest and re- 
tains his caste remembering the sacred text. Hence, 
it is said in the Code of Manu, ^^A Brahman by re- 
taining the Rig-veda in his memory incurs no guilt 
though he should destroy the inhabitants of the three 
worlds, and even eat food from the foulest hands,'' ^ 

1 Book II, 26. 

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ri iHE survival of the soul after the death of the 
-*- body is everywhere implied; but Manu's doctrine 
is that if a man has been wicked the soul is clothed 
in a body composed of coarse and impure elements, 
which goes with it into hell ; whereas, if he has been 
virtuous, the soul is invested with a luminous and 
ethereal body, composed of the purer elements of air 
and fire, and this body goes with the righteous soul 
into heaven. 

A place of reward and punishment is indeed very 
necessary for the proper compensation of man^s conduct, 
but neither the reward of heaven nor the punishment 
of hell, according to the Hindu theology, is full, ef- 
fectual, or final. 


/ The heavens of the Hindu system are only steps on 

the road to complete happiness, and the hells, though 


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places of terrible torture, are merely temporary purga- 

The soul must leave both heaven and hell, and re- 
turn to corporeal existence, migrating into higher, in- 
termediate and lower forms, according to its degrees of 
guilt or virtue, and passing in its progress towards 
emancipation from separate existence, through the four 
stages of bliss, called saloka (living in the same heaven 
with God) ; samipya (nearness to God) ; sarupya (as- 
similation to the likeness of God), and sayujya, when 
a complete union with the Supreme is attained. 


The faithful Hindu after death soon reaches the 
path of the gods and comes to the world of fire and 
air — to the world of Indra and Brahma. Here is the 
beautiful river of eternal youth, whose banks are 
crowned with majestic trees, and by whose side stands 
the city and the palace of ^^ the unconquerable.^^ Here 
is the magnificent hall of Brahman, with the imperial 
throne and luxurious couch of splendor. Here also 
are the crystal streams which lead to the knowledge 
of Brahman. When the devotee approaches. Brahman 
orders his servants to run and meet him, and to render 
him the same homage which they yield to their lord. 
Then five hundred celestial nymphs approach him. 
One hundred of thenl bring him beautiful garlands of 
flowers ; one hundred bear precious ointments ; one 
hundred come laden with choice perfumes; one hun- 
dred are burdened with rich and luxurious garments for 
his apparel, and one hundred bring the choicest fruits 
for his enjoyment, and adorn him like Brahman himself. 

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In the beautiful waves of the ageless river he shakes 
off his good and evil deeds, and receives the crown 
of eternal youth. The good deeds here disposed of are 
bequeathed to his beloved relatives, who are to receive 
the benefits arising from them, while his unfortunate 
relatives, who are not beloved, receive the full value of 
his transgressions. 

He approaches the beautiful tree Ilya, and the odor 
of Brahman reaches him. He approaches the great 
city, and finds there the flavor of Brahman. He then 
approaches the magnificent palace, and the splendor of 
Brahman greets him. He approaches the spacious 
hall, and the glory of Brahman meets his eyes. He 
finally comes to the great throne and the royal couch, 
where he finds Brahman himself, who catechises him 
very carefully and, his answers being satisfactory, be- 
stows the whole Brahman world upon him.* 


The beautiful heaven of Indra is supposed to be sit- 
uated upon the very summit of Mount Meru, which is 
the centre of the earth and many thousand miles in 
height. Here the heavenly gardens are found planted 
with luxuriant trees, which are burdened with delicious 
fruits. The fragrant groves are haunted with fairy 
nymphs, whose faces and forms are visions of loveliness. 
Low, sweet strains of music are ' borne upon the air. 
The city of Indra is eight hundred miles in circumfer- 
ence and forty miles high. Its pillars are of diamonds 
and its palaces are of pure gold. The air is laden with 
the rich perfume of the rose-colored flowers of the 

1 Kaushltaki Upanisbad, 1-8. 

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Camalata, the beauty of which has brought it the name 
of Lovers Creeper ; by this delicate flower all wishes are 
granted to the inmates of Indra's heaven. 


The home of Vishnu is built entirely of gold and is 
much larger than Indra's, being eighty thousand miles 
in circumference. The crystal waters of the Ganges 
fall from the higher heavens upon the head of Siva, 
and from there into the hair of the seven sages, from 
which they descend to the earth and form a river. On 
a throne of white lotus blossoms sits Vishnu, and his 
wife Lakshmi beside him. She is radiant with the splen- 
dor of precious stones, and the sweet perfume of her 
body extends eight hundred miles. 


Eealizing that this is a subject which attracts uni- 
versal interest, the Hindu philosophers have elabor- 
ated it very extensively. They have provided ample 
accommodations for sinners of all classes and degrees, in 
twenty-one hells of various descriptions, each of which 
is provided with an unpronounceable name in addition 
to other horrors. 

The names and number of these places of pun- 
ishment vary with different authors, the Vishnu- 
purana and also the Bhagavata giving a list of 
twenty-eight instead of twenty-one. The names of 
these places of punishment as translated are : 1st, 
darkness ; 2d, complete darkness ; 3d, place of 
howling ; 4th, place of much howling ; 5th, thread 
of time or death ; 6th, great hell ; 7th, restoring 

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to life ; 8th, waveless ; 9th, burning ; 10th, parching ; 
11th, pressing together; 12th, ravens; 13th, bud; 
14th, stinking clay ; 15th, iron spiked ; 16th, frying- 
pan ; 17th, rough or uneven roads ; 18th, thorny sal- 
mali tree ; 19th, flame river, which has a fearful odor 
and is full of blood (it is a torrent of hot water car- 
rying bones, hair, and other refuse in its course) ; 
20th, the sword-leaved forest ; 21st, iron fetters. 

This enumeration • is from the institutes of Vishnu. 
The Purana has also the following details : ^^ Men 
when they die are bound with cords by the servants of 
King Tartarus, and beaten with sticks, and have then 
to encounter the fierce aspect of Yama, and the hor- 
rors of their terrible route. In the different hells there 
are various intolerable tortures, with burning sand, fire, 
machines, and weapons. Some are severed with saws, 
some roasted in forges, some are chopped with axes, 
some buried in the ground, some are mounted on 
stakes, some cast to wild beasts to be devoured, some 
are gnawed by vultures, some torn by tigers, some are 
boiled in oil, some rolled in caustic slime, some are 
precipitated from great heights, some are tossed 
upwards by engines. The number of punishments 
inflicted in hell, is infinite. ^^^ There is also a descrip- 
tion of the Krishna, a black hell, a red-hot iron hell 
which appears to have been prepared expressly for trai- 
tors and horse dealers, a swine hell which is provided 
for wine drinkers and for those who associate with 
them, and the ^'hell of pincers'' for those who violate 
vows or break the rules of their order. '' These hells,'' 
say the Purana, and indeed 'Mmndreds and thousands of 

1 Vis. Pur., Wilson's trans., p. 640. 

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others are the places in which sinners pay the penalty 
of their crimes. As numerous as the offences which 
men commit are the hells in which they are 


The inhabitants of heaven are beheld by the suffer- 
ers in hell as they move with their heads inverted, 
whilst the gods, as they cast their eyes downward^ 
behold the sufferings of those in hell. This arrange- 
ment has a twofold purpose. It serves to enhance 
the sufferings of the wicked and to temper the enjoy- 
ment of the righteous, who are thereby reminded that 
even the happiness of heaven is but temporary in its 
duration ; for when they have received their due pro- 
poiiiion of reward, they, too, must be born again as 
stones or plants, or musir gradually migrate through 
the inferior conditions until they again become human. 
After this their future is in their own hands, and 
their future births are in direct proportion to their 

The time to be spent in hell is a kalpa (two bill- 
ions and one hundred and sixty millions of years). The 
criminal then reaches the stage of metempsychosis, 
when he is relieved from the acute sufferings and has 
an opportunity to ascend to a higher mode of exist- 
ence through the bodies of worms, reptiles, or demons. 
For instance, a gold stealer must pass a thousand 
times into the bodies of spiders, snakes and noxious 
demons ; a spirit drinker becomes a worm, insect, or 

1 Vish. Pur., Wilson's trans., p. 209. 

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In these various changes there is sometimes a curi- 
fous consistency. For instance, a man who has stolen 
perfumery becomes a musk-rat ; one who has stolen 
grain becomes a rat ; one who has stolen water becomes 
a water-fowl ; one who has stolen honey becomes a 
gad-fly ; one who has stolen meat becomes a vulture ; 
one who has stolen oil becomes a cockroach ; one who 
has stolen linen becomes a frog, etc., etc., etc. 

When the evil-doers have undergone all these trans- 
migrations and passed through various animal bodies, 
they are born as human beings, with the following 
marks indicating their crime : A criminal of the high- 
est degree has leprosy ; a killer- of Brahmans, pulmon- 
ary consumption ; a drinker of spirits, black teeth ; a 
malignant informer, an offensive breath ; a stealer of 
food, dyspepsia; the breaker of a convention, a bald 
head. After these changes and a multitude of others 
follows a list of penances comprising many pages. ^ 

Having briefly presented the character and teaching 
of the Upanishads with correlative testimony from other 
works, we shall now consider a much more fascinating 
department of Sanskrit literature. Following the Upan- 
ishads chronologically come the Epics of the Hindus, a 
very important division of their literature. The Ra- 
mayana and the Maha-bharata are the two great poems 
of India and, although by no means historical from a 
European point of view, they comprise nearly all of 
history that we have from Hindu sources. 

1 Institutes of VIsh., pp. 140-149. 

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THE land of the Hindu is the natural birthplace of 
poetry and song. The great Himalayas, with rai- 
ment of cloud and robe of sunlight, seem to commune 
with the stars that crown with radiance their snowy 
brows ; in their wild crags are the silvery fountains of 
the rivers which flash and sparkle through forest and 
vale. The Ganges, the '' bride of the heavens, ^^ receives 
in her crystal tide the sins of her people and bears 
them away between her flowery banks. The wild swans 
float amid the lotus blossoms upon her bosom, and the 
gazelles come down to slake their thirst at her sacred 

The tropical forest is darkened with the shade of 
lofty trees and perfumed with the odor of a thousand 
blossoms. The long, deep grass and feathery ferns are 
kissed here and there by the stray sunbeams that find 
their way between the glossy leaves of dense thickets, 


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and the dreamy song of the kokila is borne on the 

The wide plains are illumined with the dazzling 
flowers of the cactus and the snowy wreath of jessa- 
mine blossoms, while here and there the sweet lime-tree 
and feathery acacia wave their delicate boughs in the 
sunlight, and the orange groves unfold their pearly cups 
of rich perfume. 

Delicate butterflies float slowly away on the fragrant 
air, and golden bees nestle amid the rose petals and 
revel in life and beauty. 

Down by the gleaming shores of the ever sounding 
sea, the white-crested waves come marching in; with 
song and psalm and chanted pi*aise they come, and the 
children of the wildwood hear in their waves the song 
of the sea-nymphs, and see in coral groves the home 
of the ocean queen. So they bring oblations to the 
fair goddess of the sea, who is robed in azure and pearl, 
with garlands of scarlet flowers in her heavy hair and 
her snowy hands gleaming amidst the darkling waves. 

Above the mountain crest and beyond the silvery 
sea is the changeful sky of crimson and gold — of ame- 
thyst and azure — which is to them ^the ^^ Mantle of 
Indra.^^ Whether this radiant mantle is tinted with 
the rosy light of morning, or gilded with the golden 
glory of noon, or flashing with diamonds in the halls of 
night, it receives the earnest adoration of the worship- 
ers. They bring their oblations to the morning light, 
their songs of praise to the god of day, and their rever- 
ent thanksgiving to the silvery soma that illumines 
the night. The imagination of the Hindu has long 
been cultivated by the beautiful scenes around him. 

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THE rImIyana. 155 

and the results are manifested, not only in the songs 
of the Vedas, but also in the great Hindu Epics. 

The two colossal poems of Sanskrit literature, the 
Ramayana and the Maha-bharata, have been called 
^^The Iliad and the Odyssey of the Hindus/' 


The Ramayana has been beautifully termed ^^The 
Iliad of the East," and in some respects this great In- 
dian production does resemble the Grecian classic. 

The subject of both Epics is a war undertaken to 
recover the wife of one of the warriors, who was car- 
ried off by the hero on the other side. In this respect 
Rama, the hero of the Ramayana, corresponds to Men- 
elaus, while in others he more nearly represents 
Achilles. Ayodhya may be compared to Sparta and 
Lanka to Troy. But it would be unjust to compare 
Sita, the chaste and beautiful wife of Rama, with the 
treacherous Helen. The Indian princess, pleading 
eloquently to be allowed to follow her husband into 
exile, is a loyal, loving woman, while the beautiful 
Helen is a faithless, fickle wife, utterly unworthy of 
the life-blood of an honest man. 

The descriptions of Ayodhya and of Lanka imply 
greater luxury and a higher degree of refinement than 
those of Sparta and Troy. But so far as art and har- 
mony are concerned the Asiatic poems cannot com- 
pete with those of Greece. The Ramayana and Maha- 
bharata are burdened with description and simile, with 
wearisome repetition and amplification, while the Iliad 
and Odyssey have the polish and the rounded propor- 
tions of Grecian sculpture. 

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The Indian Epics sometimes lay aside all delicacy 
and give the most revolting particulars of ancient leg- 
ends, but the Ramayana shows far more humanity to a 
fallen foe than does the Iliad. 

The duty of returning good for evil, which had been 
so clearly taught in a previous age/ is well illustrated in 
the character of Rama, who ordered elaborate funeral 
honors to be paid to his conquered foe. 

Jn striking contrast with this scene is the barbarous 
picture so vividly described in the Iliad when the dying 
Hector pleaded with his foe : 

'^ By thy own soul, by those who gave thee breath. 
By all the sacred prevalence of prayer. 
Ah, leave me not for Grecian dogs to tear! 
The common rites of sepulture bestow. 
To soothe a father^s and a mother's woe. 
Let their large gift procure an urn, at least. 
And Hector's ashes in his country rest.'' 

But the furious Greek, who is almost glorified by 
Homer, degrades his own manhood and taunts the dying 
man with insult : 

^^ No, wretch accursed, relentless he replies, 
(Flames as he spoke shot flashing from his eyes). 
Not those who gave me breath should bid me spare. 
Nor all the sacred prevalence of prayer ; 
Could I myself the bloody banquet join. 
No — to the dogs that carcass I resign. 
Should Troy, to bribe me, bring forth all her store, 
And giving thousands, offer thousands more, 

lEx. xxili: 4, 5; 2d Sam. xvi: 12; Prov. xxv: 21, 22. 

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Should Dardon Priam and his weeping dame, 
Drain their whole realm to buy one funeral flame, 
Their Hector on the pile they should not see, 
Nor rob the vultures of one limb of thee/' 

The funeral pyre of Ravana was adorned with 
wreaths of flowers and costly jewels at the command 
of the victor, while the body of the gallant Hector 
was chained to the chariot wheel of Achilles and 
dragged around the walls of Troy, in full view of his 
aged father and broken-hearted mother. 

'' Purple the ground and streak the sable sand. 
Defamed, dishonored in his native land. 

And the whole city wears one face of woe, 
No less than if the rage of hostile fires. 
From the foundations curling to her spires. 
O'er the proud citadel at length should rise. 
And the last blaze send Ilion to the skies." 


Quite a difference of opinion prevails among schol- 
ars in relation to the age of this work. Dowson and 
Sir Monier Williams claim its earliest origin to be about 
500 B. C, and Williams speaks of "the beginning of 
the third century B. C' as the time of the first orderly 
completion of the work in its brahmanized form. He 
also assigns a portion of it to the early centuries of 
our own era. 

Prof. Weber claims that it belongs to the begin- 

1 Ind. Wis., pp. 319, 820. 

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ning of the Christian era ^^ after the operation of Greek 
influence upon India had already set in."* 

The noted Indian scholar, KaShinath Trimbak Te- 
lang, in a note on the Ramayana says, ^'The received 
chronology refuses to allow to the bulk of classical 
literature an antiquity of more than eighteen centuries, 
if so much."^ 

But while there is a variety of opinion on the sub- 
ject, it seems to be well established that the work be- 
longs to an age subsequent to the Iliad, and this fact 
in connection with the striking similarities of the two 
poems certainly gives some weight to the opinion of 
Prof. Weber that the Indian poets really borrowed ideas 
from Homer. 


The Ramayana is held to be one of the most sacred 
of all the Hindu productions.* Like otlier works of 
the same class, it boldly lays claim to supernatural 
powers, declaring that "Whoever reads or hears the 
Ramayana will be freed from all sin . . . Those 
who read or hear it for the sake of riches will cer- 
tainly acquire wealth. . . . The Ramayana heals 
diseases, removes all fear of enemies, compensates for 
the loss of wealth or fame, prevents loss of life, and 
secures all that is desired. The mere utterance of the 
name of Rama is equal in religious merit to the giv- 
ing of a hundred ornamented cows to a Brahman, or 

1 Sans. Lit, p. 194. 2 ind. Ant., Vol. ill, p. 267. 

8 The Hindus, who are the devoted followers of Rama, acknowledge 
two bibles in two different versions of the great Epic, the one by Val- 
miki and the other by Tulasi-dasa. 

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the performance of an Asva-medha.^ A follower of 
Kama enjoys happiness in this world, and in the next 
is absorbed into Rama in the heaven of Vishnu." Rama 
is still faithfully worshiped in India, and 'devotees will 
sit for days and nights together upon the sacred banks 
of the Ganges or beneath the stately pipal trees re- 
peating in low monotonous tones, '^ Ram, Ram, Rama." 
The mere utterance of the words without any con- 
ception of the ideas accompanying them will secure 
a birth into a higher life either to men, birds, or 


The plot and unity of the poem show it to have 
been originally the work of one man ; but his name is 
lost to the historian, and there are three different ver- 
sions now in existence. The one best known and 
most popular among Europeans is ascribed to Val- 
miki ; another to Tulasi-dasa, who was born A. D. 
1544, and is said to have written in A. D. 1575, two 
copies of whose work, claimed to be in his own hand- 
writing, are still preserved in India;- while the third is 
ascribed to Vyasa (the editor or arranger). These 
authors took a crude legend which had for generations 
been repeated from father to son, and remodeled and 
finished it, each in his own peculiar style. Wilkins 
and some other Oriental scholars claim that the pas- 
sages in the Hindu Epics which speak of Rama as an 
incarnation of Vishnu are among the interpolations of 
a much later date than the original. 

iThe great horse sacrifice, which required a year of preparation. A 
hundred of these offerings entitled the sacrificer to the throne of Indra, 

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Prof. Williams and J. Talboys Wheeler think . that 
it may have some foundation in fact ; that at some 
early period soon after the settlement of the Aryan 
races in the plains of the Ganges, a body of invaders 
headed by a bold leader may have attempted to force 
their way into the peninsula of India, in which case 
the heroic exploits of the chief would naturally become 
the theme of song and the hero himself would be de- 
ified. Prof. Weber claims that the work is purely al- 
legorical, being based upon the single historical fact 
of the spread of Aryan civilization toward the south 
and the feuds connected therewith. Be this as it may, 
we have in the Ramayana a mass of literature which, 
although radiant with Oriental coloring, is a wilderness 
of myths and extravagant fables. 


This interminable Indian Epic consists of twenty- 
four thousand slokas, or verses, but even this state- 
ment does not give us an intelligible idea of the 
formidable volumes through which it leisurely wan- 
ders. Its literary value would be greatly increased by 
condensation. Few busy people of modern times would 
find time to read it in its present form, even if it 
possessed the marvelous properties which are ascribed 
to it. We therefore give briefly in the following 
chapters the principal story of the poem, which is 
here presented in a simple style of narration. 

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rpiHE opening scene of this fascinating Indian 
-^ romance is laid in the ancient city of Ayodhya, 
which in modern times is called Oude. Beautifully 
situated upon the banks of the river Sarayu, Ayodhya 
was in olden times one of the most magnificent cities 
of Hindustan. But the great scythe of time has swept 
her glories away, leaving only a pitiful scene of ruin. 
Even the name of her river has been changed, which 
now sweeps along its course under the name of Gogra. 
She was the capital of the great raj of Kosala, which ex- 
tended from the Gogra to the banks of the Ganges. 
But little is now known of this fertile kingdom. The 
rajas who governed it claimed to be descendants of 
the sun, and hence they were called the solar kings. 
History claims that the ancient Ayodhya was a city 
of considerable importance, but the vivid imagination 


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of the Hindu poet has made it a dream of fairyland. 
In the Ramayana it is represented as being built en- 
tirely of large and well-arranged houses, while the 
streets were continually cooled with streams of running 
water. Its temples were richly decorated with gold 
and gems, and its stately palaces lifted their great 
domes toward the heavens, like the crowns of the dis- 
tant mountain tops. 

Its parks were filled with tropical flowers and 
shaded here and there with massive trees. Birds of 
bright plumage darted like flames through the heavy 
foliage. Crystal fountains sparkled in the air, and on 
the quiet pools below them the white lotus blossoms, 
fair daughters of the moon, raised their fragrant cups 
in rich profusion. On the banks of the great river 
the stately plantain trees drooped with golden fruit, 
and the magnolias loaded the air with the rich odor of 
their creamy blossoms. 

The whole city shone in splendor and waved its 
gorgeous banners on the fragrant breeze, and strains 
of richest music mingled with the twanging of bow- 
strings and the low chanting of Vedic hymns. 

The city was encompassed with great walls, which 
were set with jewels, and her towers and the porti- 
coes above her gates were filled with archers. Every 
part of the city was guarded by heroes, who were as 
strong as the eight gods that rule the universe, and 
vigilant as the many-headed serpents who watch at 
the entrance of the regions below. 

There was no poverty within her gates, but every 
merchant owned storehouses, which were filled with 
jewels. There were no misers, nor thieves, nor liars 

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inside her beautiful walls, and no one lived less than a 
thousand years. Men loved their own wives only, none 
of whom was without a marriage crown, or rich laces 
and jewels. Their clothing never became soiled ; their 
gold was never tarnished. All the women were beau- 
tiful, witty, and wise, for there was no disease or un- 
happiness in the favored city. 

'' In bygone ages built and planned 
By sainted Manu^s princely hand. 
Imperial seat ! her walls extend 
Twelve measured leagues from end to end ; 
Three in width, from side to side 
With square and palace beautified. 
Her gates at even distance stand. 
Her ample roads are wisely planned. 
Right glorious is her royal street. 
Where streams allay her dust and heat. 
On level ground in even row 
Her houses rise in goodly show. 
Terrace and palace, arch and gate 
The queenly city decorate. 
High are her ramparts, strong and vast. 
By ways at even distance passed. 
With circling moat both deep and wide. 
And store of weapons fortified. ^^* 

In the midst of the wonderful city was the magni- 
ficent palace of the raja, encompassed by walls so high 
that the birds could not fly above them, while over 
the massive gateways, strains of music floated by day 

1 The poetical extracts In this story, unless otherwise indicated « are from 
Griffiths' translation. 

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and by night. In the midst of the palace was the 
throne, which was set with precious stones. The palace 
itself was guarded by thousands of warriors, who were 
as fierce as flames of fire and as watchful as the lions 
which guard their mountain dens. 


In the midst of all this magnificence there lived a 
childless king, Da^ratha. Although descended from 
the sun, his line threatened to become extinct, for 
there was no heir to his royal throne, his beautiful 
city, and his fertile kingdom. He was a perfect 
charioteer, a royal sage, and famous throughout the 
three worlds for his virtues and his magnificence. His 
kingdom was inspected by his spies as the sun in- 
spected it by its rays, but the great Da^aratha found 
in it all no disloyalty or disobedience. The raja re- 
solved to perform the great Asva-medha^ sacrifice in 
order to propitiate the gods and obtain a son. So the 
long ceremony was begun and the rajas from all the 
surrounding kingdoms came to attend the sacrifice. 
Thousands of priests were feasted by themselves, the 
most delicious viands were served to them in dishes of 
gold and silver, and their attendants were the warriors 
of the kingdom. Eighteen sacrificial pits were pre- 

1 The horse for this sacrifice was turned out to wander at his will for a 
year, followed by a faithful priest or perhaps a large body of attendants. 
If no one touched him during the year of preparation, he was considered fit 
for the sacrifice, but if he had been caught another had to be turned loose 
and the ceremonies postponed. If the first horse proved fit for the offering, 
when the year was completed and the long preliminary arrangements were 
finished, the sacrifice was performed with almost endless ceremonies, which 
were purposely made very diflftcult and tedious. No one could perform 
them except Brahman s, who received enormous gifts in return for their 

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pared in the form of the bird Garucja, and the pits 
which represented the wings of the bird were lined 
with bricks of gold. The king gave to the priests 
a million cows, one hundred million pieces of gold 
and four hundred million pieces of silver, besides gen- 
erous presents to the whole multitude. Then the 
horse and the birds and the animals were duly sacri- 
ficed, and the presiding priests proclaimed to Dasaratha 
the welcome news: 

^^ Four sons, monarch, shall be thine, 
Upholders of the royal line.^' 


The gods assembled at the sacrifice in obedience 
to the summons of the priests, who slowly chanted : 

^^ For you has Da^ratha slain 
The votive steed, a son to gain. 
Stern penance rites the king has tried. 
And in firm faith on you relied.^' 

Having partaken of the food furnished them by the 
offering, and being pleased with the sacrifice, they went 
in a body to Brahma to intercede with him on behalf 
of the raja, and to present a petition of their own. 

The whole body of deities, with the glorious Indra 
at their head, presented themselves at the heaven of 
Brahma, and there beneath the golden dome and be- 
fore the throne of white lotus blossoms they pleaded 
with their sovereign to grant the petition of Dasara- 
tha and also to rid the world of the hideous ten- 
headed demon, Ravana, who had long persecuted the 

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gods and the priests, destroying the sacrifices and 
violating every law of virtue and every principle of 

The celestial band stood before Brahma in all their 
beauty and brightness, surrounded on every side by a 
host of joyous storm gods, and with joined hands 
chanted their petition: 

*^ 0, Brahma, mighty by thy grace, 
Ravan, who rules the giant race, 
Toi'ments us with his senseless pride, 
And penance-loving saints beside. 
For thou, well pleased in days of old, 
Gavest the boon that makes him bold. 
That gods nor demons ere should kill 
His charmed life, for so thy will. 
We honoring that high behest. 
Bear all his rage, though sore distrest. 
That lord of giants, fierce and fell. 
Scourges the earth and heaven and hell. 
Mad with thy boon, his impious rage 
Smites saint and bard and god and sage. 
The sun himself withholds his glow ; 
The wind, in fear, forgets to blow; 
The fire restrains his wonted heat 
Where stands the dreaded Ravan's feet ; 
And necklaced with tho wandering wave, 
The sea before him fears to rave. 
Kuvera^s self in sad defeat 
Is driven from his blissful seat. 
We see, we feel the giant^s might. 
And woe comes o'er us and affright. 

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To thee, lord, thy suppliants pray 
To find some cure this plague to stay/' 

Ravana had secured from Brahma the promise 
that he should not be slain by gods or demons or 
genii. This assurance had been gained by a long pen- 
ance on the part of Ravana, during which he had 
stood upon his head in the midst of five fires for ten 
thousand years. In addition to this wonderful boon 
he had thereby gained a gratuity of nine additional 
heads, with a full complement of eyes, ears, noses, 
and other features, besides eighteen additional arms and 
hands. Brahma having bestowed these gifts upon 
Ravana, found himself in a dilemma. He therefore 

^' One only way I find 
To slay this fiend of evil mind. 
He prayed me once his life to guard 
From demon, god, and heavenly bard. 
And spirits of the earth and air. 
And I, consenting, heard his prayer. • 

But the proud giant in his scorn 
Recked not of man of woman born. 
None else may take his life away. 
And only man the fiend can slay.'' 

Brahma then conducted them to the home of Vish- 
nu, on an island in the sea of milk, which is the 
sixth circumambient ocean of the world. When they 
arrived at the gorgeous court of Vishnu, the god was 
not to be seen. They began, however, to sing his 
praises, and soon the glorious lord of the world ap- 

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pearedj arrayed in garments of golden texture and 
riding upon his eagle steed (Garu(Ja). In his four 
hands were the symbols of his power — the shell, the 
mace, the cakra, and the lotus, while his beautiful 
wife, Lakshmi, sat upon his lap. . Then the assem- 
bled gods fell upon their knees before him and im- 
plored him to deliver them from the fatal power of 
Havana. The great Vishnu was gracious to his noble 
petitioners, and answered : '^ Be no longer alarmed ; 
your foe shall fall before my feet. Havana in his 
pride of power did not ask Brahma to preserve him 
from men or from monkeys, for he deemed them be- 
neath his notice. But I will take advantage of this 
omission, and cause his destruction by the very means 
which he despises. I will myself be born as the son 
of Dasaratha, you shall assist me by assuming the 
form of monkeys, and together we will overthrow this 
terrible enemy of gods and men.^* Then the gods re- 
joiced and sang the praises of Vishnu as they went 
away to do his bidding, and were borne to their homes 
across the creamy billows of the sea of milk. 


Soon after the conclave of the gods had received 
from Vishnu a favorable answer to their petition, the 
principal wives of Dasaratha bore him four sons. 
KauSalya was the mother of Rama^ and Kaikeyi the 
mother of Bharata, while Sumitra became the mother 
of two eons, Lakshmana, who was always the firm 
friend of Rama, and §atru-ghna, who was equally 
attached to Bharata. 

It is claimed that when Rama was born he wore a 

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crown set with jewels. In his ears were rings in the 
form of crocodiles. He had four arms, and in each 
hand he held one of the symbols of Vishnu. A string 
of rubies was around his neck, and a million suns and 
moons would hide their faces at the sight of his coun- 
tenance. After explaining to his mother his reason for 
assuming a human form, he concealed his four arms, 
and in the form of a human babe began to cry. When 
it was announced in the streets of Ayodhya that four 
heirs were born to the raja, the great city was filled 
with rejoicing. The happy father distributed gener- 
ous gifts among the people, and received in return 
their congratulations and praises. From every gate of 
the city the joyful notes of music rang out upon the 
clear air, and the houses were decorated with the 
blossom-laden branches of the mango tree. Rama, the 
beautiful boy,* grew rapidly toward manhood, and even 
in his childhood became an expert archer. In early 
youth he was the best shot in the kingdom, and his 
strength was such that everything he touched yielded 
to the power of his hands. 


The raja Janaka, who ruled over a neighboring 
province, was the possessor of the wonderful bow of 
Siva. This was said to be the veritable bow with 
which Siva had destroyed the gods, when he overturned 
the altars and tore up the groves of Daksha, because 

1 Each nation has an undoubted right to its own ideal, but the per- 
sonal appearance which is ascribed to Bama hardly accords with mod- 
em ideas of beauty. He i^ represented as being of "a beautiful color 
like green grass, with fine glossy hair and a large head. His nose was 
like that of the green parrot, his legs resembled plantain trees, and his 
feet were red as the rising sun.** 

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Daksha, having prepared a great sacrifice, invited all 
the gods to the festival except Siva and his wife. But 
no man could handle the great bow or the heavy ar- 
rows of the vindictive god. Janaka therefore issued 
a proclamation that he who could bend the bow of 
Siva should receive in marriage his beautiful daughter, 
Sita.^ The loveliness of this young girl had at- 
tracted rajas from all parts of the country to enter 
the contest for her hand, but they had gone home in 
dismay when they saw the mammoth bow. The fame 
of Sita^s beauty had also reached the city of Ayodhya, 
and Rama determined to test his strength and win, 
if possible, the lovely princess. One beautiful morn- 
ing he started with Lakshmana, who was ever his de- 
voted companion, to the city of Mithila, where the 
raja Janaka lived. 

When they arrived and the raja saw them, he in- 
quired of his attendants, ^^Who are those two young 
men who are as majestic as elephants, as heroic as 
tigers, and as beautiful as the two Asvins?^'* And 
they answered, ^^ They are the sons of Maharaja Da^ 
ratha, and they come hither to inquire about the great 
bow.^^ Then the raja exhibited to his royal guests 
the great bow with which Siva destroyed the gods at the 
sacrifice of Daksha, and which had ever since been 
preserved in the royal house of Mithila, and wor- 
shiped by devotees. 

lit Is claimed that Sita was bom of the earth and not of woman. 
Janaka said that one day while he was ploughing, the ploughshare 
struck a silver vessel, and taking it out of the ground he opened It 
and found a beautiful babe therein, whom he adopted as his own 
daughter. • 

2 Two deities, ever young and beautiful, who riding In a golden car 
announced the coming of Ushas (the dawn). They are also called di- 
vine physicians. 

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When the bow was brought into the royal presence 
it lay in a great car, which moved upon eight wheels 
and was drawn by five thousand strong men. Then 
said raja Janaka to the young princes, ^^I have prom- 
ised to give my beautiful daughter Sita to the raja 
who shall succeed in bending the bow, and all the ra- 
jas of the earth have come hither ; but no one has been 
strong enough even to lift it from its resting-place/^ 
No sooner had he uttered these words then Rama stepped 
forth in his magnificent strength and took the bow 
from the car with his right hand, while the multitude 
around him were hushed with amazement and expec- 
tation. Then, taking the other hand he bent the bow 
nearly double, so that it broke with a crash, like one 
of the thunder-bolts of Indra. The people were stunned 
as if a mountain had fallen into the sea, and many of 
them were thrown to the ground. Raja Janaka turned 
to his attendants and said, " This deed of Rama's is 
without a parallel, and he shall receive my daughter 
Sita in marriage. Let messengers be mounted upon 
swift horses, and let them carry this joyful news to 
the raja Dasaratha, and bring him to this city.*' 


When the messengers arrived at the palace of Da- 
Saratha the king was rejoiced to learn of the prowess 
of his son, and also that the two royal lines were to be 
joined by the marriage of Rama with the lovely prin- 
cess Sita. 

Early the next morning the raja set out with a 
magnificent train of attendants upon the four days' 
journey to the city, of Mithila. In his splendid reti- 

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nue a large corps of royal archers rode upon swift 
horses, and the priests of the royal household were 
mounted upon elephants with rich trappings and dec- 
orations. All the treasures of the king were also car- 
ried in a long line of chests, which were drawn hy 
elephants. The raja and his household were mounted 
upon white elephants and attended hy dancing girls 
and musicians. The great procession moved gaily out 
of the city, amidst the rejoicing of the people, and 
wound its way slowly along to the city of Mithila. It 
was joyfully received, the raja Janaka and his court 
coming out to meet his royal guest, whom he saluted, 
saying to Da^aratha, "Happy am I this day and de- 
livered from all distress, for by this alliance with your 
royal line my family will be honored and purified. ^^ 

On the morrow when the two kings with their 
priests and other attendants were assembled, the great 
sage Vasishtha recited to raja Janaka the names of all 
the ancestors of Daferatha, and Janaka repeated to his 
guest the long list of his own progenitors. Thus the 
two royal lines were compared and the marriage was 
decided upon. Then DaSaratha retired from the scene 
and performed the great ceremony of Sraddha, or offer- 
ing, to the ghosts of his ancestors, giving a great 
number of cows to the officiating priests. Each cow 
had horns of pure gold. 

When the ceremonial night had passed away, Dasa- 
ratha, attended by his four sons, all richly adorned 
with jewels, went again to the raja of Mithila. When 
they reached the chamber of the gods where the cere- 
mony was to be performed, they found it draped on 
every side with the richest flowers of the tropics. 

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There were great vases filled with the branches of 
magnolias, whose white blossoms loaded the air with 
their fragrance. The pearly flowers of the orange tree 
surrounded its golden fruit, contrasting with the rich 
green of its foliage. The floor was carpeted with the 
sacred kusa grass, and the sacred fire was lighted upon 
the altar, where the homa, consecrated with mantras, 
was placed upon the flame. While Kama stood upon 
the eastern side of the altar, Janaka led his peerless 
daughter to the other side. Costly jewels studded the 
folds of her white robe and glittered in the braids of 
her dark hair. Then raja Janaka placed her hand in 
that of Kama and said to him, ^' This is my daughter 
Sita, endowed with every virtue. Take her hand in 
yours, son of Dasaratha, and she will ever attend 
you like a shadow. Maintain her for life, and be not 
offended if she commits a fault. ^^ The bride was 
consecrated with holy water, the trumpets sounded, and 
Rama led her three times around the sacred fire upon 
the altar and performed all the ceremonies according 
to the Hindu law. Then a shower of blossoms fell 
upon them from the heavens, and celestial music was 
heard in the sky, as the Gandharvas, or celestial 
musicians, played a sweet and solemn wedding hymn. 

After Kama and his bride were taken to an inner 
room, her veil was removed, and he looked for the first 
time upon her lovely face. Her large dark eyes were 
veiled with heavy lashes and cast down in the presence 
of her lord, while her crimson blushes lighted up with 
new beauty her soft golden complexion. As Kama 
took his trembling bride in his arms and gazed upon 
her girlish form, a great love was born in his heart for 

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the woman upon whom he now looked for the first time. 
Her ruby lips were pressed with a warm and eager 
kiss, which was at once a lover^s tribute and a hus- 
band^s offering. And she, the timid girl, felt the brave 
heart of her husband beating against her own, and 
nestled in his bosom, like a trembling bird that has 
found a refuge from the storm. 

The next morning after the marriage of Kama, the 
raja Dasaratha and his family took leave of Janaka, 
who caressed his daughter Sita and loaded her elephant 
with valuable presents. The splendid troops of archers 
and the great retinue of horses and elephants with their 
rich trappings were made ready, and amidst the strains 
of joyous music the procession set out for the capital 
city of Dasaratha. Couriers had announced their 
approach, and upon their arrival, they found Ayodhya 
adorned with banners and decorated with flowers. The 
air was filled with the clangor of trumpets, and thou- 
sands of people thronged the gates to welcome their 
king, the heir apparent, and his beautiful bride. After 
a great feast to the musicians and the warriors, the 
dancers and the singers, the priests and the kinsmen, 
they were dismissed with rich presents, and the royal 
party entered their own apartments within the beautiful 


It was the custom for the heir to the throne to re- 
ceive the appointment of Yuva-raja, that he might 
assist in the management of the affairs of state, even 
during the life of the raja. This arrangement intro- 
duced the young prince to his life work, and at the 

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same time lightened the burdens of the reigning king, 
while it effectually prevented any dispute as to the 
proper successor when the death of the raja occurred. 
Therefore, the ministers and counselors went to the pal- 
ace and entreated Da^aratha to appoint Kama as the 
Yuva-raja, for all the people loved the young heir and 
were anxious to see him share in the honors of the 
government. The ministers said to Da&ratha, " 
Maha-raja, listen to the voice of your people. You are 
the raja of rajas. You are the greatest among men. 
At a great sacrifice of your happiness you have gov- 
erned us for nine thousand years, and under your rule 
every one has been happy and no one has dreamed of 
misfortune. Now it is the wish of all that Eama 
should also be placed upon the throne.^' 

So Daferatha called together all of his ministers 
and counselors, and the chieftains and officers of the 
army, and all the people of the city to hear his pro- 
clamation. Then from the throne of the Council Hall 
the raja addressed them as follows : ^^ To-day I am the 
happiest of men, and I cannot reward you sufficiently 
for the joy which your proposal has given me. I have 
long been desirous of placing Kama upon the throne, 
but have waited to know your wishes. Therefore, let 
there be ;io further delay. I have constantly pre- 
served my subjects to the utmost of my power, but 
this frame of mine has grown old under the shadow 
of the royal canopy. I am worn out with the weight 
of my duties, and desire rest. My excellent son I 
wish to appoint Yuva-raja. To him I commit the 
government of the raj. This delightful month, Caitra, 
in which the forests are adorned with flowers, is sacred 

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and auspicious ; prepare all things for the installation 
of Kama as Yuva-raja/^ Then all the chieftains and 
the people rejoiced and great shouts went up from 
the assembled multitude. But the raja turned to 
Va^ishtha and said, ^^ O chief of sages, it is proper 
for you to say what ceremonies shall be per- 
formed at the installation of Kama.^^ And Vasish- 
tha said to the servants of the king, "Prepare the 
gold and the jewels and the purifying bath of the 
gods, the incense, the garlands of white flowers, the 
parched grain, the honey, the clarified butter, the 
insignia of royalty, and all things necessary for the 
installation of the Yuva-raja, and place them in the 
house set apart for the sacred fire. Provide, also, 
abundance of food, with curds and milk for one hun- 
dred thousand priests, and fill the golden pots with 
water from the sacred rivers. Let the Brahmans be 
invited to attend and the throne be prepared and the 
banners be elevated, and let the musicians and beauti- 
ful dancing girls gaily adorned, fill the inner court 
of the royal palace, and let garlands of flowers be 
placed in all the temples and beneath the sacred 
trees. ^^ 

Then Da^ratha said to his chosen counselor 
Sumantra, "Bring hither the accomplished Eama.'^ 
So Eama was brought to the great council hall of 
the palace, and descending from his royal chariot went 
into the presence of his father and bowed himself at 
his feet. But the raja clasped both the hands of his 
son and drew him toward him, and commanded a 
lofty throne set with jewels to be placed before the 
heir apparent. Then addressing his son he said. 

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^^AU men owe three great debts: the first to the 
gods, the second to the Eishis, and the third to their 
ancestors. The first I have paid with sacrifices and 
ceremonies ; the second, by learning the Vedas, and 
your birth has freed me from the third. I have now 
one wish remaining, which you must not refuse. You 
are my eldest son, born of my first wife, and all my 
chieftains, counselors, and subjects are anxious to see 
you upon the throne. I wish you, therefore, to comply 
with their request. Do not hesitate because I am 
alive, for it has always been the rule of my race for 
the raja to take his son to the throne when he grows 
old. To-morrow is auspicious; therefore, to-morrow I 
will install you as Yuva-raja.^^ And Eama bowed his 
head to the king and went away to the apartments 
of his devoted mother to inform her of his good for- 
tune, before he began the ceremonies which were to 
purify him for the morrow. 


The youngest and most beautiful wife of Daferatha 
was Kaikeyi, the mother of Bharata. Her heart had 
been burning with jealous rage ever since the joy and 
feasting over Kama's marriage began. The magnifi- 
cent presents and the beautiful wife of the heir appar- 
ent had filled her with envy, and now the great prepa- 
rations to install him as Yuva-raja made her resolve to 
defeat him if possible. She therefore retired to her 
own apartments to work out her wicked scheme. She 
remembered that some years before, when the. raja was 
wounded in battle, she had nursed him tenderly, and 
in his gratitude he had promised her any two boons 

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that she might ask. A promise of this kind is pecu- 
liarly sacred in the East, and as she had never yet 
claimed its fulfilment, she felt that she now held the 
key to the situation. 

When the preparatory ceremonies were over, the 
king hastened to the apartments of his beloved Kaikeyi, 
to give her the joyful tidings and receive her congratu- 
lations upon the accession of his son. He hurried 
along the hall, which was decorated with peacocks and 
made vocal with the songs of birds, where beautiful 
vines and flowers twined around the marble pillars, fill- 
ing the air with their fragrance. With a joyful heart he 
entered a magnificent room, which was as bright as the 
southern sky beneath a mantle of fleecy cloud. But he 
saw only the magnificent appointments of the room ; the 
beautiful creature who had hitherto met him with her 
smiles was not there. Then his heart sank within him, 
for he longed to see her. But the doorkeeper said, 
^^ Oh, raja of rajas, the rani is in a great rage, and she 
has fled to the chamber of displeasure.'' 

Puzzled and grieved, the king hurried to the cham- 
ber of displeasure, and beheld his beautiful rani lying 
upon the floor, in sordid garments He caressed her 
and tried to arouse her, like one who awakens a sleep- 
ing serpent that will surely cause his death. ^^Why, 
my beloved, are you in the chamber of displeasure? 
Why are you without ornaments, and why do you 
weep? Surely I have never offended you by night or 
by day. Say if you are ill, that I may send for the 
most eminent physicians, or if any one has offended 
you, that I may punish him according to your pleasure. 
I will do whatever you command ; I will slay the inno- 

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cent or release the guilty, for I am a raja of rajas. I 
will give you whatever you request, even if it be my 
own life/^ And he clasped the evil creature in his arms, 
even as men will sometimes take a serpent to their 

Seeing that he was still infatuated with her, Kaikeyi 
told him of the boons he had promised and that the 
time had come when he must grant them, if, indeed, he 
really loved her. 

' ^^ Now pledge thy word if thou incline 
To listen to this prayer of mine. 
If thou refuse thy promise sworn 
I die despised before the morn.^^ 

Then the foolish raja smiled upon her and said, 
^* Know, V beautiful one, that no one is more beloved 
than you except my son Eama, and by Kama, who is 
dearer than my life, I swear that I will perform your 
request, whatsoever it may be. May I lose all the merit 
of every good deed that I have done upon earth if I 
fail to perform your request. ^^ 

Then the evil creature demanded of him, '^ Grant 
me the boon, even as thou hast sworn. Let all the 
gods, with Indra at their head, and all the regents of 
the universe bear witness to the promise of the illus- 
trious, the upright, the faithful Maha-raja.^^ Then 
putting her arms around him, she entreated him to 
remember the two favors which he had promised 
when she had saved his life by her care, and which 
she now claimed. ^^The first favor is that my son 
Bharata be installed this day instead of Eama, and the 
second is that Kama may be banished to the forest of 

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Dan^aka,' to lead the life of a hermit, and to clothe 
himself in deerskins and in the bark of trees for four- 
teen years/^ 

When the raja heard these fatal words, he fell upon 
the floor in his anguish, like a majestic plantain tree 
that has been prostmted by the wind. 

Then Kaikeyi said to herself, " After he has installed 
Bharata I shall not be sorry for his death, but now I 
must bring him to his senses, for if he dies Rama will 
surely receive the kingdom." So she called her attend- 
ants to apply restoratives, and at last he became again 
sensible of his pain and exclaimed, ^^Am I tormented 
with demons or have I lost my reason?" When he fully 
remembered all that she had said, he quivered in pain 
like an antelope in the grasp of a tigress, but he felt as 
powerless in her vile presence as a bird in the face of a 
serpent that has charmed it. At last he recovered him- 
self enough to exclaim, *^0h, cruel wretch! what has Rama 
done to. you? He has always yielded to you the same 
reverence that he pays to his own mother; why, then, 
are you bent upon his ruin? You, the daughter of a 
raja, have crept into my house like a venomous serpent 
in order to destroy me. Oh, Kaikeyi! have pity upon an 
old man, who humbly supplicates you. Save my life by 
relinquishing your evil purpose. Take jewels instead — 
take a thousand cities, or anything else that will satisfy 
you," and he fell at her feet while he pleaded. But the 
cold-hearted woman replied, '^I am in possession of my 
senses. People call you truthful, and it is said that 
you always adhere to your promise. The time has 

This forest is described as a terrible wilderness Infested with wUd ani- 
loals and inhabited by savages or demons. 

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come for you to grant me the two favors that you 
swore should be mine/' She was met with a torrent 
of indignant reproach, to which she angrily replied by 
accusing him of falsehood. • 

He remembered his oath, and bitterly exclaimed : 
" Oh, Kaikeyi ! in what evil hour have I entered your 
room ? I have been entrapped by my love for you as 
a mouse is entrapped by a bait. The race that has 
descended from the sun has hitherto been without 
stain ; and I am the first to pollute it. Never before 
was it heard that a father sent his eldest son into exile 
in order to gratify a capricious woman. Be the con- 
sequence what it may, I shall place Kama upon the 
throne as soon as it is morning. But I fear lest Rama 
should hear of my promise. Then he would volun- 
tarily go into exile rather than send his father to a 
liar's hell.' Oh, Kaikeyi ! relinquish this cruel wish ! 
What will the rajas say when I tell them that, tortured 
by you, I have given the kingdom to Bharata and sent 
Rama into the jungle ? The whole world will abhor 
me for the sake of the female who sends my beloved 
son into the forest. Oh, Kaikeyi ! I fall at your feet ; 
be gracious to me.'' But the evil creature replied, '/ 1 
have three times repeated my requests, and your 
promises must be fulfilled or I will take poison in your 
presence." Then answered the raja, ^*I reject you for- 
ever, and your son Bharata I reject with you, although 

1 J. Talboys Wheeler remarks that the " great stress which Is here laid 
upon the performance of a promise is somewhat remarkable, from the fact 
that it scarcely tallies with the charges which have been so frequently 
brought forward against the truthfulness of Hindus." Neither is It quite 
consistent with the teaching of their sacred Code of Manu, that lying is some- 
times Justifiable. (See Manu VIII, 103, 104.) A similar precept occurs In 
another ancient code, but an expiation is there prescribed. 

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he is my son as well as yours/' While the king still 
lingered in this chamber of torture darkness came 
down upon him and he passed a terrible night of 
agony, a helpless raja within his palace walls. 


The morning dawned clear and beautiful. Bright 
banners and garlands of flowers saluted the rising sun, 
and all was made ready for the great installation of the 
heir to the kingdom. The golden throne was set up 
and covered with the white canopy, which was the 
symbol of royalty. The sacred tiger's skin, the bow 
and the cimeter, and the sacrificial fire, with the ele- 
phants and the chariots and horses were at hand. The 
golden pots were filled with water from the sacred 
Ganges, and surrounded with the fruits and gorgeous 
flowers of the favored clime. There, too, were the 
priests, and the eight beautiful damsels to rub tumeric 
on the body of the raja ; there was the great white 
bull, girded with a golden rope, and the shaggy lion, 
and a multitude of musicians, and thousands of people, 
besides the beautiful dancing girls. 

At the rising of the sun the magnificent procession 
filled the street leading to the palace, and there the 
patient people waited for the coming of the raja and 
the excellent Rama. Vasishtha requested Sumantra to 
go and hasten the Maha-raja, ^^so that Rama may re- 
ceive the raj as the moon enters the mansion of Push- 
ya.'' Sumantra joyfully entered the palace, and ap- 
proaching the curtain of the door he remained outside 
of the apartment and saluted the raja thus : ^^ As the 
ocean when illumined by the rising sun gives pleasure 

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to the beholders, so a great raja by his benign presence 
diffuses happiness around him. As the charioteer of 
Indra aroused the mighty god before he went forth, 
so do I arouse you. As the moon awakens the earth, 
permit me this day to awaken you. The god of day 
rises propitious from his couch; may he and all the 
gods command that success attend you. Oh, Maha-raja, 
all is ready for the installation of Eama. As an army 
without a commander, as the night without the moon, 
so is a country when the Maha-raja does not appear." 
These joyous words fell upon the ear of a monarch who 
was speechless with anguish : but the heartless Kaikeyi 
responded, ^^60 you, Sumantra, and bring Eama 
hither, for the raja has something of great importance 
to tell him." 

Then Sumantra went out of the palace and has- 
tened to the home of Kama, which was as resplendent 
as the palace of Indra. In the lovely grounds the deer 
were feeding in fearless serenity, and the gay peacocks 
displayed their gorgeous feathers in the morning sun- 
light. Sumantra passed the brilliant militia guard at 
the door, and going toward the inner apartments, he 
ordered the attendant to inform Eama immediately that 
Sumantra waited for an audience. 

When Eama heard that his father^s chosen counselor 
had come, he directed that the guest should be con- 
ducted at once to his presence. When the great coun- 
selor entered the room he beheld Eama sitting on a 
golden couch, tastefully draped with the richest fabrics 
of the Indian looms. The air of the room was fragrant 
with the odor of sandalwood and rich masses of tropi- 
cal flowers. The beautiful Sita stood by her lord fan- 

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ning him with peacock^s feathers, while her young face 
was lighted with love and happiness. Then Sumantra 
delivered his message, and Rama turned to Sita with 
the words, " Oh, divine one ! I will go at once to the 
Maha-raja, and you may remain here and amuse your- 
self with your maids/' The dark-eyed wife followed 
her lord to the door saying, ^^ May the gods of all the 
four quarters of the universe protect you. May Indra 
who wields the thunderbolt, Yama the judge of the 
dead, Varuna, god of the waters, and Kuvera, the lord 
of wealth, guard you from harm.'' Then Eama went 
gaily out with Sumantra, and they ascended Rama's 
bright chariot, lined with tiger skins, adorned with 
gold and gems, and drawn by magnificent horses. 
Lakshmana, his younger brother, attended the crown 
prince, standing behind him in the chariot. 

His appearance on the street was greeted with 
shouts and cheers and the great multitude pressed 
around his chariot, while thousands of horses and 
trained elephants followed and the brightly uniformed 
militia guarded the line of his approach. Thus amidst 
the strains of music and the triumphal acclamations 
of the multitude he was escorted to his father's palace, 
where he was met with garlands of flowers, the palace 
itself appearing as resplendent as the milk-white cars 
of the gods. Having passed through the five outer 
courts he ordered his people to halt, while with his 
brother only he entered his father's presence. 

The whole multitude waited without in joyous antici- 
pation, while a terrible scene was enacted within the 
palace walls. Rama beheld his wretched father sitting 
by the side of Kaikeyi on a magnificent couch, with 

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his whole face and form withered and blasted by the 
terrible hand of sorrow. Rama knelt at his feet, but 
the eyes of the raja were overflowing with tears. Sob- 
bing with anguish, he could only exclaim, ^^Oh, Rama! 
Rama ! '' The young heir shrank from the presence of 
Kaikeyi as if he had been touched by a loathsome 
serpent, for his father was convulsed with grief, like 
an ocean which is swept by a tempest. 

But Kaikeyi displayed neither grief nor shame. She 
coolly said, *^Rama, the Maha-raja is not angry, neither 
is he in distress; but he has something on his mind 
which he forbears to tell you, though it is necessary 
that you should know it. The Maha-raja has made 
me two solemn promises and confirmed them with an 
oath ; but he now repents of it like one of low caste. 
In former times when I saved his life he offered me 
two boons and swore to perform them. I have now 
requested that my son Bharata may be installed as 
coadjutor with the Maha-raja, and that you may be 
sent into exile in the wilderness of Dan(Jaka for four- 
teen years. If, therefore, you desire that your father 
shall act according to his oath, you will go out of 
the city this day and return not for fourteen 
years. ^^ 

She coolly uttered this merciless speech, well know- 
ing that it was a dagger which pierced the hearts of 
both father and son. The Maha-raja was overcome 
with grief, but Rama bravely replied: ^^Be it so. I 
will depart into the forest that the Maha-raja may ful- 
fil the promise he has made. Let messengers be sent 
upon swift horses to bring Bharata here from the city 
of Giriv-raja, and I will hasten to the forest of Dan- 

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<Jaka and abide there fourteen years." And Kaikeyi 
replied, " So let it be. Let not your fathei'^s shame af- 
fect you, but depart immediately, for your father will 
neither eat nor bathe until you are out of the city." 
Although goaded thus by her merciless tongue, he qui- 
etly answered, " I obey the will of the Maha-raja, for 
there is no act of virtue greater than that of obeying 
the command of a father and fulfilling his engagements. 
But I go first to take leave of my loving mother, 
KauSalya, and to comfort my beautiful Sita." And 
bowing himself again at the feet of his wretched 
father, he left the apartment, followed by Lakshmana, 
who had witnessed the whole interview. 


When Kama entered the elegant rooms of his devo- 
ted mother, he saw that she was propitiating the gods 
in his behalf. She was even then fanning the sacrifi- 
cial fire, while around her lay the curds, the rice, the 
sweetmeats, the white garlands, the sacrificial wood, and 
the jars of holy water. She joyfully arose and em- 
braced her son, saying, ^^May you attain the age, the 
renown, and the virtue which are worthy of your race, 
oh, Kama, for even this day you are to be installed in 
the office of coadjutor of the raj, according to your 
father^s promise." Then Kama saluted her, and said, 
^^ Oh, mother ! Are you unacquainted with the heavy 
calamity now pending ? It is Bharata who is to be 
installed, and as for me, I am to go for fourteen 
years into the forest of Dan(Jaka and live upon roots 
and fruits." 

When Kausalya heard these terrible words she fell 

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in the agony of her grief to the floor. But her son 
raised her up and tenderly comforted her. At last 
she exclaimed: ^' Oh, Kama! Oh, my son! If you had 
never been bom I should have been saved this bitter 
sorrow. A barren woman has only the grief of being 
childless ; she knows not what it is to lose a sou. 
Oh, Kama! I am the chief rani, the first and the 
rightful wife; I am the mother of the heir to the 
throne, and yet even whilst you are here I have been 
supplanted and am insulted by the very servants of 
my rival, and now even my own servants will see 
Kaikeyf s son installed in the raj ! You, too, will be 
doomed to hunger and fatigue and all the horrors of 
exile. Surely there is no room in the mansions of 
Yama, or death would have seized upon me this day, 
like a lion springing upon a trembling doe. The Maha- 
raja is the victim of a bad woman ; he has brought 
contempt upon himself by becoming the slave of his 
mistress. Oh, Kama! Before this thing is made pub- 
lic you ought to assume the reins of government. You 
can now do so without the aid of the old raja, who 
has sunk into his second childhood and is the slave of 
Kaikeyi.^^ ^^You are right, mother, ^^ exclaimed 
Lakshmana. ^'You have spoken what I had in my 
own mind. I long to see Kama upon the throne, and 
should anyone oppose him, I swear to you that he 
shall soon behold the mansions of Yama.^^ But Kama 
answered, ^'I can not transgress the commands of my 
father. I therefore entreat your permission, oh, my 
mother, to depart into the forest. No one is degraded 
by obedience to his father, and having promised to 
obey him, I can not make my promise void.^' 

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Still another terrible trial awaited the loyal heari; of 
Baraa. Taking tender leave of his mother he went to 
his own home, where his loving wife awaited his com- 
ing. Seeing that he was sorrowful, Sita inquired, "Why 
is it, Rama, that you are not yet installed ? Has the 
moon not yet entered the palace of Pushya?'^ He 
then repeated to her the sad story he had already told 
his mother and added, "By the command of my 
venerable father I go this day into the forest. It will 
therefore become you to devote yourself to my aged 
mother, who is wasted with grief. Oh, beloved one ! 
I must depart to the great forest and you must remain 
here, obedient to the commands of raja Bharata.^^ But 
the brave wife answered, " Oh, Rama ! What words 
are these ? A wife must share the fortunes of her 
husband, and if you go to the forest, I must go with 
you and smooth away the thorns. Wherever the hus- 
band may be, the wife must dwell in his shadow. I 
shall live with you in the jungle, and we shall 
be happy together in the fragrant woods. I am 
not afraid, and I long to roam through the forest 
with my husband ; but if you leave me, oh, Rama ! 
I shall die.^^ And a flood of hot tears filled her eyes at 
the thought of separation, although banishment from 
home and throne, with the man she loved, had no power 
to bring them forth. 

Taking his brave young wife into his arms, Rama 
said, " Oh, Sita ! The forest is not always pleasant ; 
indeed, it is dangerous. You are the delicate daughter 
of a raja. You have never braved even the hot sun 

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of the city streets ; how then could you live in the 
wilderness ? Your feet are as delicate as the petals of 
a lily ; how could you walk on the cruel thorns of 
the wood ? There are terrible serpents and crocodiles 
and tigers. The rank weeds conceal snakes so veno- 
mous that even their breath will kill a man. Some- 
times you would have to live upon bitter roots and 
fruits. You would thirst when you could have no 
water. For garments you would have to wear the 
bark of trees and the skin of an antelope, and at night 
sleep upon grass or the bare earth. Reptiles, mosqui- 
toes, flies, and scorpions would bite and sting you in 
your sleep. Fearful Rakshasas^ (demons) infest the 
wilderness, and they will eat a man at a single 
meal. Besides, you would be without friends, and how 
can that be endured by a woman ? You are dearer to 
me than my own life, and I cannot take you into the 
wilderness and expose you to these terrible perils. You 
will always be in my thoughts, but you must remain 
here, where I can at least know that you are safe 
and comfortable.^^ But she only nestled closer in his 
arms, and answered : 

^^ A wife must share her husband^s fate. My duty 
is to follow thee 
Where'er thou goest. Apart from thee I would not 
dwell in heaven itself ! 

1 These Rakshasas are elsewhere described as shapeless and cruel monsters 
who perpetrate terrible outrages, changing their forms at pleasure. They are 
represented as hiding in the thickets, casting away the ladles and sacrificial 
vessels of the devotees, and defiling their offerings with blood. The most 
revolting descriptions are given of their natural appearance, although it is 
claimed that they can at will assume the most fascinating features. The 
myth has probably grown from exaggerated descriptions of the aboriginal 
tribes found in the jungles of India. 

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Deserted by her lord, a wife is like a miserable 

Close as thy shadow would I cling to thee in this 

life, and hereafter. 
Thou art my king, my guide, my only refuge, my 

It is my fixed resolve to follow thee. If thou must 

wander forth 
Through thorny, trackless forests, I will go before 

thee, treading down 
The prickly brambles to make smooth thy path. 

Walking before thee I 
Shall feel no weariness. The forest thorns will seem 

like silken robes; 
The bed of leaves, a couch of down. To me the 

shelter of thy presence 
Is better far than stately palaces, and Paradise itself. 
Protected by thy arm, gods, demons, men, shall have 

no power to harm me. 
With thee 1^11 live contentedly on roots and fruits. 

Sweet or not sweet. 
If given by thy hand, they will to me be like the 

food of life. 
Beaming with thee in desert wastes, a thousand years 

will be a day. 
Dwelling with thee, e^en hell itself would be to me 

a heaven of bliss. ^^^ 

But Kama yielded not to her pleadings, and seeing 
her tears he bowed his head in sadness. Then she 
drew her form up to its full height, and with her dark 

1 Williams' trans. Ind Wis., p. 366. 

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eyes flashing through her tears, she exclaimed, '^ Shame 
on my father for giving me to a man who has no spirit! 
They say that Rama is brave and courageous, but he 
is too effeminate to protect even his own wife in the 
wilderness. Surely the Maha-raja has acted wisely in 
not giving the kingdom into the hands of such a cow- 
ard ! After having married me and pretended to love 
me, he is willing to desert me and leave me in deso- 
lation and loneliness for fourteen years/' But her 
love was stronger than her indignation, and breaking 
down in the midst of her upbraiding, she said, "If 
I have done wrong, oh, my husband, forgive me ! I 
can bear anything but separation from you. I entreat 
you to take me with you. Do not refuse me, oh, 
Rama ! '^ and weeping bitterly she threw herself at his 

Rama could no longer withstand her pitiful plead- 
ing. Taking her in his arms, he said, *' Why do you 
blame me, beloved, without understanding me ? My 
heart's desire is always to remain with you. I would 
not care for the throne of Brahma without you. But 
when I thought of your delicate frame, I felt that I 
could not take you into the wilderness. Still, if you 
are determined to go, take leave of your friends, for 
you shall accompany me.'' Sita, overjoyed, hastened 
to arrange for their departure. Then Lakshmana ap- 
proached his brother and entreated that he might be 
allowed to accompany them. Rama gladly consented; 
whereupon they took off all their jewels and orna- 
ments, and even their shoes, and went after the man- 
ner of devotees to the palace to take leave of Da&ira- 

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A rumor had spread through the city that instead 
of the installation, Kama and his wife Sita, and his 
half-brother Lakshmana, were to be sent as exiles into 
the forest of Danglaka. The people loved Rama as 
they, loved no one else, and the terrible news fell upon 
Ayodhya like a funeral pall. The gorgeous procession 
gradually separated, and mournful crowds with tear- 
stained faces took its place. 

At last the two princes and the wife of Rama were 
seen walking with bare feet toward the palace of the 
Maha-raja. The indignation of the populace could not 
longer be suppressed and bitter denunciations were 
mingled with wailings. The Maha-raja was bitterly 
denounced, some declaring that he must be possessed 
of demons or he could not do so cruel a thing. Oth- 
ers sneered at his weakness in being controlled by a 
wicked woman, and others still proposed that all the 
inhabitants and their families should take their wealth 
and follow Rama into the wilderness, leaving a de- 
serted city for Bharata and his heartless mother to 
rule over. 

While the people were lamenting, the little party 
approached the palace, and Counselor Sumantra made 
known to Dasaratha that Rama was at the door. The 
Maha-raja had summoned all the inmates of the pal- 
ace, and in their presence was still cursing Kaikeyi 
when Rama and Sita and Lakshmana entered the room. 
The Maha-raja arose from his seat to receive them, 
but overcome with grief he sank back again. Rama 
and Lakshmana took him up in their arms and laid 

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him upon the royal couch, while the cries of the 
women, mingled with the clanging of their ornaments, 
filled the palace. Then Rama with joined hands said, 
"I entreat you, oh, Maha-raja, to look with a pro- 
pitious eye upon me who am ready to depart to the 
wilderness of Danglaka. Permit also Lakshmana and 
Sita to accompany me to the forest. '^ 

Then the Maha-raja answered, " Oh, Rama ! I have 
been infatuated with this wicked woman — set aside my 
command — become this day the raja of Kosala.'^ But 
Rama replied, ^* My lord, the Maha-raja has yet a thou- 
sand years to live upon the earth, and I will abide 
in the forest fourteen years, but when I have com- 
pleted the vow I will again embrace the feet of my 

^^ Go, then, beloved son,^^ returned the Maha-raja, 
"but go in a safe and good road, and go not away 
to-day. Spend this night with your mother and me, 
and to-morrow do as you think best. Oh, Rama ! 
I have been deceived by a vile woman, who has cov- 
ered her evil designs as a fire is covered with ashes.'' 

But Rama persisted in going immediately as he had 
promised. All the women of the palace wept bitterly 
except the remorseless Kaikeyi. The chief counselor 
also mingled his tears with theirs, but his indignation 
overcame his grief, and turning with fierce denuncia- 
tions upon Kaikeyi, he accused her of murdering the 
raja and his family, and uttered the threat which the 
people were making — that they would with one accord 
desert the raj and leave her and her son in a deso- 
late city. 

Then the Maha-raja gave the following command to 

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Sumantra : *^ Order the troops to make ready at once 
to accompany Kama. Let beautiful dancing girls and 
musicians and rich merchants adorn the train of my 
son. Let the warlike engines follow Kama, and the 
citizens also. Let all my storehouses of grain and 
treasure accompany my children that they may dwell 
happily in the wilderness.^' But Kama supplicated the 
Maha-raja to countermand the order, declaring he had 
no use for soldiers or followers. So with many lov- 
ing words to the Maha-raja and tender caresses to Kau- 
6alya, the exiled trio left the palace. But the raja 
declared that Kama should not go away on foot ; if 
he must go, he should at least travel in a style befit- 
ting the great prince that he was. The royal chariot 
was ordered, and Kama and Sita and Lakshmana were 
seated therein, while the chief counselor himself took 
the reins, and guided the willing steeds as they moved 
proudly away. 

The whole city was now in a state of excitement, 
and the afflicted people ran after the chariot or hastily 
mounted horses to accompany it. Every carriage that 
happened to be ready was pressed into service, and a 
great crowd, of people followed them. Even the Ma- 
ha-raja and Kausalya came after them and cried to 
Sumantra to rein in the horses that they might once 
more look into the face of Kama. But the young 
prince commanded his charioteer to drive on and 
said, ''When the Maha-raja asks you why you did not 
obey him, tell him that you did not hear his order. 
My deep distress has driven me to this falsehood. '^ 

And so the great chariot went out of the city, fol- 
lowed by a vast concourse of mourning people; while 

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those who were left behind were overcome with grief. 
The black pall of sorrow rested upon the great city. 


The Maha-raja entered the palace with a breaking 
heart, and said to his attendants, ^' Carry me at once to 
the apartments of Kau^lya, the mother of Rama, for 
only with her can I find rest for my tortured heart. ^^ 
They carried him in and laid him upon a gorgeous 
couch, from which he never arose. As the city watch- 
man called the hour of midnight, he said, ^' Oh, excel- 
lent Kaufelya, take my hand while I confess to you the 
great sin of my youth — the sin for which the gods are 
now sending this terrible woe upon me.^' And holding 
the hand of his faithful wife he confessed that he had 
years before accidentally caused the death of an only 
child, and that the father in cursing the author of his 
suffering, had declared that sorrow for a child should 
one day bring the wanton prince to his grave. Said 
the heart-broken king : 

"One day when rains refreshed the earth and caused 

my heart to swell with joy. 
When after scorching with his rays the parched 

ground, the summer sun 
Had passed toward the south ; when pooling breezes 

chased away the heat. 
And grateful clouds arose; when frogs and pea-fowl 

sported, and the deer 
Seemed drunk with glee, and all the winged creation, 

dripping as if drowned. 
Plumed their dank feathers on the tops of wind-rocked 

trees, and falling showers 

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Covered the mountains till they looked like watery 

heaps, and torrents poured 
Down their sides, filled with loose stones, and red as 

dawn with mineral earth. 
Winding like serpents in their course; then at that 

charming season, I, 
Longing to breathe the air, went forth, with bow and 

arrow in my hand. 
To seek for game, if haply by the riverside a 

Or elephant, or other animal, might cross at eve, my 

Coming to drink. Then in the dusk I heard the 

sound of gurgling water; 
Quickly I took my bow and, aiming toward the sound, 

shot off the dart. 
A cry of mortal agony came from the spot, — a human 

Was heard, and a poor hermit^s son fell pierced and 

bleeding in the stream. 
^Ah, wherefore then,^ he cried, ^am I, a harmless her- 

mit^s son, struck down ? 
Hither to this lone brook I came at eve to fill my 

water jar. 
By whom have I been smitten ? whom have I offended ? 

Oh, I grieve 
Not for myself or my own fate, but for my parents, 

old and blind. 
Who perish in my death. Ah! what will be the end 

of that loved pair, 
Long guided and supported by my hand ? This barbed 

dart hath pierced 

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Both me and them/ Hearing that piteous voice, I, 

Who meant no harm to any human creature, young or 

old, became 
Palsied with fear; my bow and arrows dropped from 

my senseless hands. 
And I approached the place in horror ; there with dis- 
may I saw. 
Stretched on the bank, an innocent hermit-boy, writh- 
ing in pain and smeared 
With dust and blood, his knotted hair disheveled, and 

a broken jar 
Lying beside him. I stood petrified and speechless. 

He on me 
Fixed full his eyes, and then, as if to burn my inmost 

soul, he said ; 
^ How have I wronged thee, monarch ? that thy cruel 

hand has smitten me — 
Me, a poor hermit^s son, born in the forest. Father, 

mother, child 
Hast thou transfixed with this one arrow; they, my 

parents, sit at home 
Expecting my return, and long will cherish hope, — a 

prey to thirst 
And agonizing fears. Go to my father — tell him of 

my fate. 
Lest his dread curse consume thee, as the flame 

devours the withered wood. 
But first in pity draw thou forth the shaft that pierces 

to my heart. 
And checks the gushing life-blood, as the bank 

obstructs the bounding stream.' 

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He ceased^ and as he rolled his eyes in agony, and 

quivering writhed 
Upon the ground, I slowly drew the arrow from the 

poor boy's side. 
Then with a piteous look, his features set in terror, he 

Distracted at the grievous crime, wrought by my hand 

Sadly I thought within myself how best I might repair 

the wrong. 
Then took the way he had directed me toward the 

There I beheld his parents, old and blind; like two 

clipped, wingless birds 
Sitting forlorn, without their guide, awaiting his arrival 

And to beguile their weariness, conversing of hirn 

tenderly. ^ 

Quickly they caught the sound of footsteps, and I 

heard the old man say 
With chiding voice, ' Why hast thou lingered, child ? 

Quick, give us both to drink 
A little water. Long forgetful of us, in the cooling 

Hast thou disported ; come in — for thy mother yeameth 

for her son : 
If she or I in aught have caused thee pain, or spoken 

hasty words. 
Think on thy hermit's duty of forgiveness ; bear them 

not in mind. 
Thou art the refuge of us refugeless — the eyes of thy 

blind sire. 

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Why art thou silent ? Speak ! Bound up in thee are 

both thy parents^ lives/ 
He ceased, and I stood paralyzed — ^till by an effort res- 
Collecting all my powers of utterance, with faltering 

voice I said, 
* Pious and noble hermit, I am not thy son; I am the 

Wandering with bow and arrow by a stream, seeking 

for game, I pierced. 
Unknowingly, thy child. The rest I need not tell. Be 

gracious unto me.^ 
Hearing my pitiless words, announcing his bereavement, 

he remained 
Senseless awhile ; then drawing a deep sigh, his face all 

bathed in tears. 
He spake to me as I approached him suppliftntly, and 

slowly said, 
<Had'st thou not come thyself to tell the awful tale, 

its load of guilt 
Had crushed thy head into ten thousand fragments. 

This ill-fated deed 
Was wrought by thee unwittingly, 0, king, else had 

thou not been spared. 
And all the race of Baghavas had perished. Lead us 

to the place : 
All bloody though he be, and lifeless, we must look 

upon our son 
For the last time and clasp him in our arms.' Then 

weeping bitterly. 
The pair led by my hand came to the spot and fell 

upon their son. 

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Thrilled by the touch, the father cried, ^My child, 

hast thou no greeting for us? 
No word of recognition ? Wherefore liest thou here 

upon the ground ? 
Art thou offended ? or am I no longer loved by thee, 

my son ? 
See here thy mother. Thou wert ever dutiful towards 

us both. 
Why wilt thou not embrace me ? Speak one tender 

word. Whom shall I hear 
Reading again the sacred Sastra in the early morning 

hours ? 
Who now will bring me roots and fruits to feed me like 

a cherished guest ? 
How, weak and blind, can I support thy aged mother 

pining for her -son ? 
Stay ! Go not yet to Death's abode — stay with thy pa- 
rents yet one day. 
To-morrow we will both go with thee on the dreary way. 

And sad, deserted by our child, without protector in 

the wood. 
Soon shall we both depart toward the mansions of the 

King of Death.' 
Thus bitterly lamenting, he performed the funeral rites ; 

then turning 
Towards me thus addressed me, standing reverently 

near — ^I had 
But this one child, and thou hast made me childless. 

Now strike down 
The father. I shall feel no pain in death. But thy 

requital be 

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That sorrow for a child shall one day bring thee also to 
the grave/ ^'* 

When he had finished the sad recital, the king fell 
back exhausted, but rallied under the influence of restor- 
atives applied by the physicians around his bed, and 
taking her hand again he drew his stricken wife more 
closely to him, saying in pitiful, heart-broken tones, 
" Come nearer, my wife, let me feel your loving arms. I 
cannot see you — my sight has gone after Rama/^ There 
was darkness in the city, but the darkness of grief lay 
like a pall upon the palace where the faithful watchers 
stood around the dying king. Soon the throbbing pulse 
was still, the tortured heart had ceased to beat, and 
the fainting wife was carried away by her attendants. 


The prince, who had been summoned, came with joy 
to attend, as he supposed, the installation of Rama, the 
rightful heir to the throne. He went first, however, to 
his mother Kaikeyi, who told him in exulting tones all 
that had taken place. But instead of receiving his 
gratitude and congratulations, she was overwhelmed 
with his reproaches and denunciations for her wicked- 
ness.* '^Have you come into this family, '^ he demand- 
ed, '^to destroy it as darkness destroys the universe? 
My father, the Maha-raja, who suspected no evil, has 
embraced burning coals, and met with his death through 
you ! Oh, you are bent upon evil ! This family has 
been forever robbed of happiness through your infatua- 

1 Williams' trans. Ind. Wis., pp. 860-362. 

2 It is stated in the original that the guiltless Bharata was pained by 
his mother's conduct as by a tumor that had been opened with a knife. 

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tion. The eldest among the sons of a raja is always 
appointed to the raj. This is the rule amongst all 
rajas, and especially those of our race. But I will bring 
back Rama from the wilderness of Dan(Jaka. I will 
bring the young heir from the forest and install him 
upon his rightful throne. ^^ 

Bharata^s half-brother, Satru-ghna, heard his words 
and applauded the position he had taken, and leaving 
Kaikeyi overwhelmed with shame and confusion the 
two brothers went together to the apartments of Kau- 
ialya with the glad news that her beloved son was to 
be brought back from exile and seated upon the throne 
which was his rightful inheritance. 

On the fourteenth day after the funeral obsequies 
of the Maha-raja, the official time for mourning 
having passed by, the great council convened in the 
court hall of the royal palace, and the counselors for- 
mally offered the throne to Bharata. But he replied, 
^*0h, excellent men ! in our family the raj has 
ever been considered the inheritance of the eldest son, 
and it is right that my eldest brother, Rama, should 
become your raja, and that I should reside fourteen 
years in the forest. Therefore, prepare a large army 
and I will lead them into the forest and restore the 
rightful heir. We will go forth with a splendid 
retinue of troops with horses and elephants, bearing 
all the sacred utensils necessary for his installation, 
and he shall return to his throne and kingdom. ^^ 

These generous words were received with shouts and 
cheers, even from the high officials, and as the news 
spread through the city, the people took up the glad re- 
frain, and their moUrning was turned to joy. Happy 

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songs and laughter again sounded in the streets which 
had for days been oppressed with a pall of sadness. 
Strains of joyous music again floated upon the air, 
gorgeous banners were once more flung to the breeze, 
and the very trees and flowers seemed to share in the 
general rejoicing. 

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THE people continued to follow the chariot of Kama 
even after the Maha-raja had been carried back to 
the palace. Determined to share in his fortunes and 
hardships, the great procession continued almost un- 
broken until they reached the banks of the beautiful 
river Tamasa, where it was determined to encamp for 
the night. So the horses were loosed and allowed to 
drink from the clear flood before being tethered for the 
night, while the people ate of the wild fruits, and 
making beds of the forest leaves lay down to sleep 
beneath the great trees. 

In the early morning Rama awakened Sumantra 
and his brother and said to them, ^^ These devoted 


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people have vowed to take us back, and they will 
never leave us while their lives remain. Let us there- 
fore quietly mount the chariot and depart while they 
are still asleep/^ Then Sumantra harnessed the horses 
as quietly as possible, and Rama with his wife and 
brother entered the chariot. The charioteer, in com- 
pliance with Ramans request, drove the horses slowly 
backward over the route by which they came, that the 
people might not be able to follow their track, and then 
turning took a different direction into the wilderness. 

When the people awoke and found that the chariot 
had gone, they followed its backward track until it 
was lost in a multitude of others ; then they returned 
with sad hearts to the city of mourning. 


In the meantime the chariot of Rama pursued its 
way to the sacred shores of the Ganges. The deep, 
cool waters were dashing between the green banks in 
a rapid current, then rolling away into the quiet pools 
below, where the creamy lotus blossoms raised their 
heads above the bright surface and toaded the air with 
their fragrant breath. Just above them the fair river 
gleamed like a stream of silver against the golden 
sands upon the shore, and around them were massive 
trees, some of which were laden with flowers, and 
others bending low beneath a weight of golden fruit. 
Here they paused to pay their tribute of devotion to 
the beautiful river by chanting the musical Hindu 
name of Ganga ! Ganga ! 

Then the fair goddess of the stream raised their 
chariot in her hands and bore it in the air above the 

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waters to the other side. This was the river which fell 
to earth from the divine feet of Vishnu.* Ganga was 
the eldest daughter of Himavat, ^^Lord of the Moun- 
tains/^ but the beautiful river flowed only through the 
fields of heaven. 

Sagara, an early king of Ayodhya, had sixty thou- 
sand sons, and he sent them out one day to recover a 
horse which had been designed for the ASva-medha 
sacrifice, but had been stolen by a Rakshasa. The 
gigantic sons of the solar race having searched the 
earth unsuccessfully, proceeded to dig through into 
the lower regions; they found many wonderful things 
in the course of their excavations, and at last met a 
living sage, Kapila. They promptly accused him of 
having stolen the horse, when he responded to their 
accusation by reducing them all to ashes. The grand- 
son of Sagara attempted to perform the funeral rites, 
but was told that the Ganga must water the ashes 
with her sacred stream. Bhagiratha, the great-grand- 
son of Sagara, then performed severe penances to 
induce the gods to send down the celestial river. He 
was told that his request should be granted, but he 
must secure the intervention of ^iva, or the earth 
would be destroyed by the force of the torrent. 

"As thou prayest it shall be. 
Ganga, whose waves in heaven flow. 
Is daughter of the Lord of Snow. 
Win ttiva that his aid be lent 
To hold her in her mid descent. 
For earth alone will never bear 
These torrents from the upper air.^' 

iThe fountain of the Ganges is said to be in the great toe of this god. 

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He therefore propitiated Siva, who at last consented 
to stand beneath the descending torrent and break its 

^^On Siva^s head descending first, 

A rest the torrents found. 
Then down in all their might they burst 

And roared along the ground; 
On countless glittering scales the beam 

Of rosy morning flashed. 
Where fish and dolphins through the stream 

Fallen and falling dashed. 
Then bards who chant celestial lays. 

And nymphs of heavenly birth. 
Flocked round upon that flood to gaze 

That, streamed from sky to earth. 
The gods themselves from every sphere. 

Incomparably bright. 
Borne in their golden cars drew near 

To see the wondrous sight. 
The cloudless sky was all aflame 

With the light of a hundred suns 
Wherever the shining chariots came 

That bore these holy ones. 
So flashed the air with crested snakes 

And fish of every hue 
As when the lightning's glory breaks 

Through fields of summer blue. 
And white foam-clouds and silver spray 

Were wildly tossed on high. 
Like swans that urge their homeward way 

Across the autumn sky/^^ 

1 Griffith's trans., Vol I, p. IW, 

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Thus flowing down the long coils of Siva's hair, the 
fearful torrent reached the earth and fell into Vindu 
Lake/ whence proceed the seven sacred streams of In- 
dia. Immediately after crossing the Ganges, Kama dis- 
missed Sumantra, sending him back to Ayodhya with 
the chariot and with admonitions to be careful of the 
feelings of the Maha-raja, and thoughtful for the hap- 
piness of his mother, Kausalya. He also sent kind 
salutations to Bharata, as the ruler of the raj. In vain 
the faithful Su mantra pleaded to be allowed to spend 
the fourteen years of exile with them and carry them 
home in the chariot. He was kindly but firmly sent 
back to the city without them. 


" Lakshmana/' said Kama, ^^my poor Sita will now 
be obliged to endure the privations of forest life, and 
the fear of lions and tigers and other wild animals. 
We will piotect her as far as lies in our power. You 
may go on before and I will follow behind her, that 
she may be shielded on all sides.'' Then taking 
their bows and arrows in their hands they walked 
bravely into the forest. They traveled slowly and 
carefully, with occasional rests on account of Sita's 
tender feet, until they came near to the beautiful moun- 
tain of Citra-kuta. 

A fair green slope which lay at its feet was cov- 
ered with flowering trees, in whose fragrant blossoms 
the wild bees drowsily hummed as they gathered the 
honey from the tinted cups and stored it away in the 

1 No such lake is known, and of the seven sacred streams men- 
tioned in the legend only two (the Ganges and the Indus) are known 
to geographers. 

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great combs hanging beneath the shelving rocks. In 
the crevice of the cliff the crystal springs formed cas- 
cades that went dashing down the mountain-side and 
poured their cool waters into the river Mancjakini as 
it swept around the base of the slope and rolled away 
in the distance. Beyond the flowering trees and just 
at the foot of the mountain stood a group of lofty 
pipals, whoso trunks were enwreathed with flowering 
vines, like garlands festooned upon the columns of 
some fair temple. While they looked a gazelle, which 
had never been startled by man, walked carelessly out 
of the shade and went down to the river to drink of 
its clear waters. 

Enchanted with the scene, Rama turned to his 
brother with the words, ^^This shall be our wildwood 
home ; we will build a cot beneath those trees, and in 
the shade of the sacred mountain we will spend the 
years of our exile.'' Then turning to Sita, he put his 
arm around her and said : 

" Look round thee, dear ; each flowery tree 
Touched with the fire of morning see. 
The Kinsuk,^ now the frosts are fled. 
How glorious with his wreaths of red ! 
The bel trees see, so loved of men. 
Hanging their boughs in every glen. 
Overburdened with their fruits and flowers ! 
A plenteous store of food is ours. 
See, Lakshman ! in the lofty trees. 

Where'er they make their home, 
Down hangs the work of laboring bees, 

The ponderous honey-comb ! 

1 The Inttea frondOBa, which has gorgeous red blossoms. 

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In the fair wood before us spread 

The startled wild cock cries. 
Hark, where the flowers are soft to tread 

The peacock's voice replies ! 
Where elephants are roaming free. 

And sweet birds' songs are loud. 
The glorious Citra-kuta see. 

His peaks are in the cloud. 
On fair, smooth ground he stands displayed. 

Begirt by many a tree. 
Oh, brother, in that holy shade 

How happy we shall be ! '' ^ 


Beneath the dense foliage of the tropical trees 
Lakshmana built a tent with gmceful branches and 
entwined it with the gigantic flowering vines that grew 
around it, forming a bower of beauty and fragrance. 
Free from the cares of state, the young prince gave 
himself up to the offering of sacrificial rites and to the 
company of his beautiful wife. 

To Eama and Sita every tree and flower were glori- 
fied by the divine light of love. Hand in hand they 
wandered through the long aisles of woodland beauty 
and gathered the rich fruits and fragrant flowers of the 

Luxury can never taste of happiness, if it is not 
offered by the hand of affection ; but love can be su- 
premely happy even in the home of poverty, for priva- 
tion has no power to break the chain which gilds even 
her own ruggedness with beauty. 

1 Book 2, Canto 56. 

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As each day was ushered in by the golden light of 
morning, which touched the sacred peak with fire, it 
brought a new crown of peace and happiness to the 
inmates of the leafy cot in the shade of the 


At the close of a peaceful day the exiles stood in 
the balmy air making their oblation to the setting sun, 
as he passed through the crimson gates of evening, 
when they were startled by a group of wild elephants 
that dashed in terror through the waves of the Man(Ja- 
kini and rushed into the jungle beyond. In another 
moment a herd of frightened deer ran by the mountain, 
and the birds flew over their heads in wild confusion. 
^^My brother,^' said Rama, ^^do you hear this ominous 
roar, deep and terrible as thunder ? It sounds like the 
approach of a hostile army, but it may be that the 
animals and birds are terrified by lions that have come 
into the jungle/^ Then Lakshmana hastily ascended 
an eminence and looking far away into the distance 
beheld the approaching army of Bharata. No wonder 
that the denizens of the forest had fled in wild affright, 
for there in the light of the setting sun were nine 
thousand elephants richly caparisoned, sixty thousand 
chariots with archers, a hundred thousand horsemen, 
and a multitude of footmen, the whole city having 
followed Bharata upon his journey into the wilderness. 
There were the ladies of the royal household, with 
Kau^lya, the royal widow, at their head. There were 
the priests and the royal counselors in chariots vying 
in splendor with the chariot of the sun. There were 

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musicians and dancing girls, gaily appareled in brilliant 

Lakshmana gazed for a moment in silence upon the 
gorgeous pageant ; then he said to his brother, *^ Oh, 
chief of men ! This must be the army of Bharata, 
the son of Kaikeyi. Jealous even of exiles in the 
wilderness, he is coming to destroy us both. I see his 
flag upon the chariot; he comes like a destroying 

But Rama answered, ^'Perhaps Bharata has come 
hither for affection only, or to surrender the raj to 
me. Why do you speak so harshly of him ?" 

Lakshmana replied, ^* Possibly the Maha-raja has 
come to see you, and will take us home again. I 
see the great imperial elephant marching at the head 
of the army, but I cannot see the white canopy of 
our royal father. ^^ 

When the procession came near the mountain, Bha- 
rata ordered a halt, that only himself and his brother, 
§atru-ghna, with the chief counselor, Sumantra, should 
first approach the exiled prince. 


The three men approached the mountain and came 
toward the large and pleasant tent. Above the door 
of the outer room was placed an enormous bow, gleam- 
ing with gold, like the bow of Indra, and beside it 
rested a great quiver of arrows, as bright as the rays 
of the sun and as keen as the face of a serpent. Be- 
fore the door of the tent Bharata saw his elder brother, 
dressed in the garb of a devotee, and near him Lak- 
shmana, also wearing garments of bark, while the beau- 

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tiful Sifca was nestling close to her husband, her great 
dark eyes dilated with wonder and fear. 

Then Bharata bowed himself in tears at the feet of 
Rama, saying, ^^This is my elder brother, who once 
had thousands of suits of apparel, who is now wearing 
vestments of bark. The body of that excellent one, 
which was formerly perfumed with costly sandalwood, 
is covered with the dust of the forest. Rama, who 
is worthy of all happiness, has undergone all of these 
privations because of me ! " 

But Rama embraced his brother, saying, ^^ Oh, be- 
loved brother! where is our father Dasaratha that you 
have come to this forest ? Is the Maha-raja alive, or 
has he departed from this life ? ' Bharata replied with 
joined hands, ^* Oh, excellent one ! my valiant father, 
having sent you into exile at the instance of my mother 
KaikeyJ, has departed to heaven, overwhelmed with 
gi'ief.'^ At the announcement of this terrible news, 
which fell upon Rama like a thunderbolt from Indra, 
the prince sank upon the ground, like a lofty tree that 
has been felled with the ax. 

It was a pitiful scene of mourning at the foot of 
the silent mountain, when the gallant brothers mingled 
their tears together over the memory of their dead 
father. Then Rama and his brothers walked down 
to the river Mancjakini, and descending into the stream 
performed the funeral oblations for their father. As 
the prince sprinkled the water toward the regions of 
Yama, he exclaimed, '' Oh, raja of rajas ! may this 
pure water given to you by me always quench your 
thirst in the spirit-land." Then holding the hands of 
his brothers he led them again to the door of the tent. 

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The troops now advanced, bringing Kaufeilya and 
the ladies of the royal household, including the hu- 
miliated Kaikeyi. Rama fell down at the lotus-like feet 
of his mother, who wiped the dust from his hair with 
her soft caressing hands ; then twining her arms around 
him as he arose to his feet, she wept for joy in the 
arms of her manly son. 

At length Bharata addressed Rama in the presence 
of the troops and the attendants with the words, ^'My 
mother Kaikeyi having given the raj to me is satis- 
fied, and now I give it to you. Oh, Rama ! with 
bowed head I entreat you to wipe off the guilt of my 
mother^s anger and deliver my father from sin. But 
if you turn your back upon me and persist in going 
farther into the forest, I will surely go with you.^^ 
But Rama answered him, ^^Nay, Bharata, you must 
be the 'raja of men, and I will be the raja of wild 
beasts. The royal canopy shall shade your head from 
the sun, while mine shall be shaded by the trees of 
the wood.'^ 

In this useless pleading the night wore away. When 
the morning sun again illumined the peaks of Citra- 
kuta, Bharata brought to the prince a pair of sandals 
embroidered with gold and besought him to put them 
on. Rama did so and returned them to his brother, 
who bowed low before them, saying, '^ For fourteen 
years I will wear the garb of a devotee and live upon 
roots and fruits. I will reside without the city, await- 
ing your return, and I will commit the management 
of the raj to your sandals. If you do not return to 
Ayodhya within five days after the completion of the 
fourteenth year, I will enter my pyro,'' 

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Bharata thcfn embraced his two brothers, and plac- 
ing the sandals upon his head, mounted his chariot, 
and with all of his attendants, both horse and foot, 
returned to Ayodhya. But the deserted city was trav- 
ersed by bats and owls; it was bereft of music and 
song. It was like a necklace from which the jewels 
have been taken, or a star which has fallen to the 
earth. Bharata refused to enter its walls. The grand 
procession swept slowly and sorrowfully in, while Bha- 
rata stayed at Nandi-grama, just outside the city. 
Here he assumed the garb and matted hair of a de- 
votee, and here he was installed, while he himself 
held the royal canopy over the sandals of Kama. All 
the affairs of the government were transacted under 
the authority of the sandals, and Bharata, while rul- 
ing the raj, paid homage to them. All the presents 
and offerings which were brought to the sovereign 
were laid before the sandals, and all matters of state 
were first presented there and afterward adjusted by 


After the departure of Bharata and his army, the 
quiet life at the foot of Citra-kuta flowed on in its 
peaceful channel. The seasons came and went, bring- 
ing new glory with every change. The outside world 
rushed on, wearing its cares and bearing its burdens, 
but they Came not to the woodland home of the ex- 
iles. Sita had made friends with the wild gazelles, 
that came down to drink from the cool waves of the 
Man^akini, and as she approached them they raised 
their beautiful eyes and looked fearlessly into her own. 

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The birds made their nests in the trees above her head 
and fluttered down to the door of her leafy home to 
find the food which she never failed to furnish them. 

But a great sage who lived in a hermitage not far 
away, came to them one day and bade them beware 
of the Eakshasas who infested the great jungle be- 
yond them. The Rakshaeas were demons who fed 
upon living men and changed their own forms at 
pleasure. Of late they had become more abundant 
and obtrusive, and the hermits had all decided to 
leave the dangerous region. The sage besought Kama, 
also, to heed the warning and go. 

So they bade farewell to the bright bower beneath 
the massive trees and went forth again into the wilder- 


At the close of the second day of their journey they 
arrived at the hermitage of a holy sage named Atri, who 
lived in the wild forest with his excellent wife, Anasuya, 
and had sanctified his life by long penance. He gave 
them a cordial welcome, for even the birds seemed 
to have heard the story of the illustrious Rama. He 
introduced his wife to the exiled prince, saying ; ^^Oh, 
sinless one ! This, my wife, is a Brahmani, renowned 
for her vows and the constant performance of pious 
deeds. By the power of her austerities rain was 
brought and fruits and flowers were produced during 
a ten years' dearth, and the holy Ganga was brought 
near our dwelling. If she ask of the gods any boon 
it will be granted her. I beseech you to let your beau- 
tiful Sita go into her presence. '^ Then Rama said to 

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his wife, "Do you hear the words of the sage? You 
may go now into the presence of Anasuya/* Then 
Sita approached with reverent mien the aged woman 
and bowed at her feet. The venerable matron said 
to her, *^0h, honorable Sita! You have abandoned .your 
relatives and friends to follow your brave husband 
into exile. The woman who loves her lord will ob- 
tain a great reward hereafter. ^^ 

Sita replied : " It is true that a woman should love her 
husband, even though he be poor and wicked, but how 
much more must she reverence him when he is the 
embodiment of virtue and kindness. ^^ The aged woman 
then drew the fair face of Sita toward her, and im- 
pressed a reverent kiss upon her forehead, saying, " I am 
greatly pleased with thee, beautiful one, and I wish to 
confer a blessing upon thee. Thou shalt ever wear thy 
youthful beauty, and thy silken raiment shall never 
become soiled or frayed — thou shalt always remain thy 
beautiful self. Time cannot tarnish thy beauty nor 
soil thy fair robes. ^^ 

On receiving the crown of eternal youth and beauty, 
Sita thought only of Rama and the pleasure that it 
would bring to his heart. "I shall be more beautiful 
in his sight, ^^ she whispered. " Oh, pearl amongst wo- 
men ! Thou hast filled my heart with gladness. ^^ When 
Rama and Lakshmana heard that Sita was to retain 
her youthful beauty through all the coming years, they 
rejoiced with her that she was thus favored above all 

They were cordially tendered the modest hospitali- 
ties of the hermitage for the night, and in the morn- 
ing inquired of the devotees where they could find a 

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pleasant home in the forest. But they were told that 
the whole wilderness of Dan(Jaka was infested with 
the terrible Rakshasas, whom it was hoped Prince 
Rama would be able to destroy, or stop their depreda- 


The morning sunlight was crowning the distant 
mountain tops with glory and piercing with its rays 
the dense foliage of the tropical forest, when the 
homeless ones again set out to find a resting-place. 
The air was perfumed with the breath of the blossom- 
laden mango trees; the tall tamarinds lifted their 
feathery plumes in the distance ; flowering creepers of 
gigantic size and gorgeous colors festooned the jungle ; 
and water lilies rested their pearly cups upon the 
bosom of every pool. 

They wandered through the beautiful scene with the 
enthusiasm of children, for the changeful face of nature 
never wearies her faithful lovers, and this was the flow- 
ery forest of Pa?i6avati. 

^^ Here is beauty and happiness,^' exclaimed Rama. 
^^ Let us seek a place for our hermitage in some pleas- 
ant thicket, where the sacrificial wood may be obtained, 
and near a flowing stream whose banks are covered 
with flowers and kusa grass/^ 

They found the place they sought in a beautiful 
spot on the shores of the bright river Godavari, whose 
gentle current sang in a musical monotone as the 
clear waters wandered away. Near it, gleaming like a 
gem in the sunshine, was a lake, which fed the stream 
and made the breezes fmgrant with the breath of its 
white lilies. 

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Their hermitage was built of the flexible bamboos, 
and the rooms were tapestried with branches of broad- 
leaved evergreens and beautified with floral vines and 
bunches of golden fruit. When Lakshmana had 
finished his task he went down to the shores of the 
lake to gather fruits and water lilies. He made 
an oblation of the flowers to the god of dwellings and 
sprinkled water, according to the ordinance, to secure 
peace to the new habitation. There in their leafy 
home the exiles dwelt happily for many days; but 
even amidst the fruits and flowers of Pa;i6avati they 
were still in the doleful wilderness of Dan^aka. Loath- 
some serpents were coiled in the flower-wreathed jun- 
gle and the Rakshasas roamed the woods, unseen by 
mortal eye. 


One of the Rakshasas was a female demon, who 
often watched Rama and Sita as they sat beneath the 
plantain trees or gathered lilies from the clear surface 
of the lake. Their innocent love and happiness was 
gall and bitterness to her vile nature, and as evil crea- 
tures cannot witness domestic happiness without wish- 
ing to destroy it, 6urpa-nakha began to plot for their 
ruin. As she gazed upon the noble form and rich 
complexion^ of Rama, she became enamored of his 
manly beauty, which formed so strong a contrast to her 
own repulsive features ; for while he was pure, noble, 
and chaste, she was so vile that she failed to win the 
respect even of the low creatures with whom she lived. 

1 Rama is frequently represented as having a complexion which is of a 
bright green *Mike new grass," although as an incarnation of Vishnu his 
color should be dark blue. 

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'' She, grim of eye and foul of face. 
Loved his Bweet glance and forehead^s grace — 
She, whose foul wig uncleanly hung. 
Him, whose dark locks on high brows clung/' 

Day after day she haunted their footsteps, becoming 
more and more infatuated with Eama, and more deter- 
mined to destroy their happiness and ruin this pure 
man by polluting him with her vile associations. She 
saw him chaste and true, and longed to degrade him 
to her own level by bringing him under her vile influ- 
ence. What a grand chief he would make for a 
Rakshasas tribe, if she could but decoy him into their 
camp and use his noble life for her own base 
service ! 

She loved Rama, if it be lawful to call that love, 
which was. only the passion of a degraded creature seek- 
ing to pollute and destroy her victim. If, then, she 
could steal from Sita the loving heart of her husband 
and rob them of their leafy home, both her lust and her 
avarice would be gratified. As she lingered one day 
gazing upon them, she turned green with envy and 
ground her teeth in her rage. But she could assume 
other forms at her pleasure, and she muttered, ^^I, too, 
can wear the face and form of beauty; I, too, can as- 
sume the manners of an innocent woman, and I will 
show her that she cannot stand between me and my 
wishes. ^^ 

So saying, she sprang to her feet and assumed a 
form of beauty and grace. Then going out into the 
thicket she uttered a piercing shriek of distress to lure 
Rama from the side of his wife. He gallantly rushed 

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into the forest to rescue a woman in distress and be- 
held the beautiful creature, who appealed to his sym- 
pathies so effectually that he. could not at once tear 
himself away from her. She approached him and with 
pleading eyes besought him to flee from the terrible 
Rakshasas of the wood, while her own loveliness and ap- 
parent helplessness appealed to him for protection. 
Drawing nearer and holding her beautiful face up to- 
ward his own she poured forth a passionate story of her 
love for him. Flattered by the approaches of the siren 
he addressed her with winning compliments, but at last 
explained that he was already bound by the marriage 
tie, and she would not wish to share his caresses with 
a rival. *^ There shall be no rival between me and 
Rama!" she screamed ; ^^ I will destroy this odious 
Sita." She ran towards the tent ; but Lakshmana 
divined her cruel purpose and with a drawn sword cut 
off her nose and ears, whereupon she rushed into the 
woods, making the echoes ring with her shrieks and 
vowing vengeance upon the mortals who had thus 
thwarted and disfigured her. She cast off her disguise 
and wore a personal appearance corresponding to her 
moral depravity ; her claw-like hands returned, and 
demon that she was she bounded through the forest, 
howling with rage and pain, and rushed into the pres- 
ence of her brother Khara. 

Seeing his sister covered with blood and almost ex- 
hausted with fury, he exclaimed, '' Who has done this ? 
Who is there, who even in sport would vex with his 
finger a black serpent full of venom ? Who would take 
the rope of death and tie it around his own neck ? Yet 
the man who has done this has drunk of the deadly 

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Then 6urpa-nakha told her story in her own way, 
and the enraged brother, calling fourteen powerful 
Kakshasas, commanded them to go with his sister and 
bring the three exiles to him as prisoners. Wild with 
rage and filling the air with their maledictions the 
Rakshasas fell upon the hermitage, but only to receive 
from the bow of Eama fourteen bright arrows, which 
sped through the air like meteors, piercing their black 
hearts and carrying them to the regions of Yama. 

6urpa-nakha gave one piercing shriek and fled to 
Khara with the tidings that his bravest warriors were 
slain. He replied in a voice like thunder, ^' Wipe away 
your tears r?id shake off your terror, for this day I will 
send these mortals to the abode of Yama.^' Then turn- 
ing to his brother Dushana, he said, ^' Equip fourteen 
thousand Rakshasas who are dreadful as a thunder- 
bolt and valiant as tigers. Bring also my chariot, my 
bows, and my arrows. I myself will go to the front 
and drink the life-blood of Rama.^' 

When Rama heard the demon troops approaching 
with loud beating of drums and terrible war cries, 
he commanded Lakshmana to carry Sita for safety 
to a cave in the mountains, while he prepared to 
meet the foe alone. The black horde came on with 
screams and yells and peals of hideous laughter. They 
poured down upon Rama like a black, raging sea, but 
he received their missiles as the ocean receives her 
rivers, and drawing his bow in a circle sent his death- 
dealing arrows into their ranks until the conquered 
army lay in slaughtered heaps upon the plain. Khara 
then rushed toward Rama in his own chariot, but 
Eama seized the bow of Vishnu and discharged a 

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flaming arrow, which laid the demon dead at his 

The contest being over, Lakashmana and Sita came 
out of the cave. The young wife joyfully embraced 
her brave husband, and as he took her into his arms 
he appeared to his adoring brother as glorious as Indra 
in his heaven of the golden dome. 


On the beautiful island of Lanka, where the wealth 
of art had vied with the luxuriance of nature, stood 
the palace of Eavana, the demon king of Ceylon. He 
was the enemy of gods and men. There were ten 
hideous heads upon his colossal form, and twenty 
strong arms bade defiance to his foes. His immense 
black body was as smooth as polished ivory, but it bore 
the marks of his terrible contests. The lightning bolts 
had scorched him and a monstrous elephant had torn 
him with his tusks, while on his broad chest was a 
great scar that had been left from a wound made with 
the shield of Vishnu. His ten necks were ornamented 
with ten huge golden necklaces set with flashing gems, 
and on his twenty wrists gleamed costly bracelets of 
gold and jewels. Each frightful head wore a golden 
serpent as a crown. He was taller than the Himalayas, 
and reaching upward he could stop the stars in their 
courses. He could shake the sea with his fearful 
strides, and with his mighty arms rend asunder the 
tops of mountains. This was he who went to Bhoga- 
vatT, the city of resplendent serpents, and conquering 
Vasuki, carried away the beloved wife of the glittering 

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224 THE ANCIEirr books of INDIA. 

snake Takshaka.^ Such was the fear he inspired, that 
every living thing shuddered and shrunk out of sight 
upon his approach. Even the winds crept silently by, 
and the angry sea forgot to rave and only moaned in 
terror when he looked upon her billows. "The courage 
of the Three Worlds/^ as he was often called, sat upon 
the golden throne in the great council hall of his 
palace, surrounded by his chieftains and counselors. 

On either side of the languid demon were great 
masses of fragrant flowers which had been gathered and 
brought to him as offerings, while at his feet were 
piles of gold and jewels which he had extorted as 
tributes from his terror-stricken subjects. Over his 
numerous heads his attendants in misty Oriental garb 
waved fans whose handles were of pearl and set with 
diamonds. As they moved them gracefully to and fro 
they kept time to a dreamy musical measure, which 
floated through the air. But while the demon sat 
holding council with his chiefs, he was disturbed by a 
confusion among his courtiers outside the palace, and 
in a moment, to his angry astonishment, his sister, the 
terrible Surpa-nakha, dashed into the room. Her gar- 
ments were torn, her long hair was disheveled, and 
her mangled face was covered with blood. 

The dreadful Ravana sprang to his feet, and shouted, 
" Speak ! who has dared to molest the sister of Ravana, 
the victor of the gods?^^ "Who has dared, indeed !^^ 
burst from the lips of the vindictive female fiend. 
"Here I find you surrounded by luxury and fanned to 

1 Vasuki and Takshaka are leading Nagas, to whom a separate dominion 
over a portion of the serpent race is sometimes assigned. In company 
with 5e8ha, they rule over snakes in general and th^ir dominion is in th^ 
lower regions, 

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sleep by the perfumed breath of flowers, while I come 
bleeding from the battle-field, where the vultures are 
feeding upon our warriors who perished in trying to 
avenge my wrongs. And who is the cause of all this ? 
— a mortal/^ she screamed, "a man by the name of 
Rama ; a mere youth who has been exiled from his 
father's court ! But he carries a bow like a rainbow, 
and from it he sends forth blazing arrows, which are fatal 
as the poison of serpents. I saw the army falling before 
him like a crop of grain that is smitten by the rains of 
Indra. Oh Havana ! this Bama has a beautiful wife 
of charming face and lovely form, and her com- 
plexion is bright as molten gold. Oh, my brother ! 
It was because I wanted to bring this beautiful woman 
away to be your wife, that I was disfigured by the 
cruel Lakshmana. raja of the Eakshasas, avenge 
the death of your brothers upon Rama and Lakshmana, 
and take the beautiful Sita to be your wife V' 

Bending down the haughty demon laid his hand 
caressingly upon the rough head of Surpa-nahka, and 
answered in tones of thunder, ^*I will indeed avenge 
my fallen brothers, and I will bring this dainty 
beauty to my own court.'' 

Then ordering his golden chariot, which moved 
through the air at the will of the charioteer, he called 
one of his courtiers to accompany him, and while they 
moved on their way he gave his orders. He was met 
with expostulations and warnings, but he only replied : 
''The sovereign of the world is not to be contradicted. 
I did not ask your advice ; I only commanded your 
assistance. You must assume the form of a golden 
deer, and going into the presence of Sita you must 

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attract her attention. Having done this^ you are at 
liberty to go where you please, for I shall have no fur- 
ther need of you. 

** Doubt not the lady, when she sees 
This wondrous deer among the trees. 
Will bid her lord and Lakshman take 
The creature for its beauty's sake. 
Thy life, if thou the task essay. 

In jeopardy may stand. 
Oppose me, and this very day 

Thou diest by this hand.^^ 


It was evening in the wilderness of Dan(Jaka. The 
day with her sandals dipped in dew was passing 
through the golden gates of the west, and the cres- 
cent moon and the evening star had come forth to bid 
her good-night. Eama and his young wife stood at 
the door of their leafy tent looking in silence upon 
the glories of the western sky, when a beautiful fawn 
came out of the thicket and entered the plantain grove, 
which had been cleared of its undergrowth. In the 
evening light he shone like burnished gold flecked 
with spots of silver, and his tiny horns seemed to be 
tipped with sapphire, while his delicate mouth and fine 
nostrils were like the red lotus blossoms, and his dark 
eyes looked fearlessly into the face of the princess. 

Sita was delighted with his beauty, and appealed to 
Rama to capture him for her. ^^We could keep it,^^ 
said she, "in our leafy dwelling, and when our term of 
exile is finished we could take it with us to Ayodhya, 

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But if you cannot capture it alive, bring at least its 
beautiful coat as a covering for our couch/' The will- 
ing husband acceded to her request, but Lakshmana 
offered a word of warning : ^^ Do you not know, my 
brother, there was never a fawn of such brilliant hues ? 
Surely it is an illusion furnished by demons. Be* not 
so rash, oh prince, as to pursue it/' But Eama an- 
swered, " Be not alarmed — even if it proves to be a de- 
mon I will slay it, and bring the skin to the daughter 
of Janaka. During all the time she has been in this 
forest she has made only this one request. Do you think 
I will fail to comply with it ? Stay with her, my bro- 
ther, and guard her from all harm until I return." 
Then throwing his golden bow over his shoulder, he 
started in pursuit of the beautiful fawn. But grace- 
fully eluding his grasp the pretty creature bounded 
into the thicket, cautiously pursued by Rama. It often 
seemed to be upon the point of capture, but as often 
it evaded the hunter's touch and fled farther toward 
the inaccessible hills in the distance. 

It was now growing dark beneath the trees, although 
it was still light above them, and at last the fawn 
paused as if wearied, while its little mouth quivered 
and foamed, seemingly with exhaustion. "Now, "'thought 
Rama, "my game is secure," and again he attempted to 
lay his hand upon its graceful neck ; but there was aur 
other bound, and this time it was far beyond the hunt- 
er's reach. Dismayed and out of patience and already 
far from home Rama drew his bow and sent his un- 
failing arrow through the side of his victim. The 
fawn fell to the earth with a human shriek, and in 
the very tones of Rama it called upon Lakshmana for 

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aid. The distant cry was heard by the listening pair 
at the door of the hermitage, and Sita besought Laksh- 
mana to fly to her husband^s aid. In vain he argued 
that it was a deceitful cry — that Kama^s power was such 
that he needed no aid ; she would not listen to a re- 
fusal, and at last taunted him with cowardice and 
with motives which were even more unworthy. Stnng 
by her severity he darted into the forest, leaving the 
beautiful princess alone amidst the rapidly falling shades 
of night. 

A feeling of loneliness and terror came over her at 
once, but she would not call him back, and she was 
soon comforted by seeing a humble priest approach- 
ing her little dwelling. In one hand he bore a staff 
and in the other a scrip. On his forehead was a 
straight mark and on his fingers were large rings of 
sacred grass. His body was emaciated and his feet 
only partially covered by his torn sandals. He meekly 
approached her, asking for food, and supposing him to 
be a true hermit she paid him lowly reverence and 
gladly invited him to enter her little home and rest 
until her husband returned. '^ Beautiful lady,^^ he said, 
"your smile is entrancing, and your radiant eyes illum- 
ine with brightness even the approaching darkness. 
How came so beautiful a gem to be in this rough set- 
ting ? Why should so fair a lady be found in this 
gloomy forest ?^^ Sita innocently told him the story of 
their exile, when the mighty raja of the Rakshasas 
said to her, *^I am Havana, the terror of the world 
I have assumed this lowly form only to gain admission 
to your presence, for my power is known throughout 
the universe. Your beauty, oh, radiant one, eclipses 

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in my eyes the beauty of all my own wives ! Will 
you not be my rani — the chief of them all ? Lanka, 
my beautiful city, is on an island of the sea. Built 
of palaces and filled with glories, it is as renowned as 
the city of Indra. There, Sita, you shall walk with 
me among the groves and feel no wish to return to 
this forest. You shall be the chief of all my wives, 
and five thousand beautiful handmaids shall attend 

But she indignantly replied, '^ Know that I am the 
daughter of raja Janaka, and my husband is my deity. 
As a lioness attends a strong lion, so am I the con- 
stant attendant of the majestic Rama ! Do you, a pit- 
iful jackal, wish to obtain a lioness, who is to you like 
a ray of the sun to a firefly ?" 

Then the demon was enraged, and he exclaimed, 
^'Infatuated as you are, oh, Sita, you cannot know of 
my power. I can torment the sun and pierce the earth 
through with my arrows. I can slay the King of Death 
himself in single-handed combat. Behold me in my 
own form.'' And assuming his own personality, he 
seemed as vast as a mountain and as terrible as Yama. 
His red eyes glared upon her, and his enormous body 
seemed to be covered with bristles of fire, and great 
earrings of molten gold gleamed in all his ears. With 
his ten horrible heads and twenty terrible arms he stood 
before her, like a black, angry cloud flashing with light- 
nings. With one pitiful cry of " Rama ! Rama ! " 
she fainted at his feet. Then with a fiendish laugh 
he^ lifted her from the ground and calling for his 
chariot he entered it, bearing his beautiful prey in his 

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The grass and ferns were heavy with the evening 
dew when Rama turned from the Rakshasa that had in 
death revealed his true character, and started with a 
heavy heart toward his home. Soon he saw his brother 
hastening toward him, and upbraided him bitterly for 
leaving Sita alone. Lakshmana explained that he came 
only in obedience to the command of Sita, who felt 
that her husband was in danger. Then they knew they 
were the victims of a plot, and hurrying in silence to 
the hermitage their fears were realized ; for the beau- 
tiful Sita was not to be found. They searched around 
the little tent and down by the crystal stream that 
went murmuring by, singing in its dreams, all uncon- 
scious of their agony. Then their lamentations were 
pitiful to hear. Rama bewailed the cruel losses of his 
life, which had culminated in the loss of her who was 
dearer far than life itself. 

^^ Tossing his mighty arms on high. 
He sought her with an eager cry. 
From spot to spot he wildly ran. 
Each corner of his home to scan. 
He looked, but Sita was not there. 
His cot was desolate and bare, 
Like streamlet in the winter frost. 
The glory of her lilies lost. 
With leafy tears the sad trees wept 
As a wild wind their branches swept. 
Mourned bird and deer ; and every flower 
Drooped fainting round the lovely bower. 
The sylvan deities had fled 

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The spot where all the light was dead. 

He saw and maddened by his pain 

Cried in lament again, again, 

^Where is she ? dead or torn away ? 

Lost, or some hungry giant's prey ? 

Or did my darling chance to rove 

For fruit and blossoms through the grove ? 

Or has she sought the pool or rill 

Her pitcher from the wave to fill ? ' 

His eager eyes on fire with pain. 

He roamed about with maddened brain. 

Each grove and glade he searched with care. 

He sought, but found no Sita there. ''^ 

Then beneath the dark foliage of the sandal trees 
the brothers swore by the stars of night to find their 
beloved Sita and to slay him who had carried her 
away, whether he proved to be a man, a god, or a 
demon. In his own terrible agony Rama requested 
his brother to direct the search, and taking only his 
bow with his quiver of arrows, among which was the 
wonderful arrow that Brahma had given him to be 
used only in a dire emergency, he followed Lakshmana. 
Neither of them thought of sleep. Through the dark 
and pathless forest they sought a charmed cavern in 
the depths of the wood, whose inmates, they thought, 
might give them the information they sought. At the 
foot of a mountain they found the entrance to the 
cave; day was now breaking, and there, resting upon 
the thick foliage of a laurel bush, lay a delicate wreath 
which Sita had worn in her hair, Eama caught up 

iBook ni, Canto 61. 

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the half-withered flowers, and while he pressed them 
to his lips his eye caught sight of a friendly vulture. 
The vulture told them that Ravana, the demon king, 
had hurried by a short time before, bearing a beauti- 
ful woman in his arms, and pointed out the way he 
had gone. They stayed for a few questions, and then 
performed the funeral rites of the vulture, who died 
before their eyes, having received a death wound from 
Ravana, in consequence of his vain attempts to rescue 
Sita from the grasp of the fiend. Having performed 
this labor of love for their lost friend and thereby as- 
sured to him a higher birth and an entrance to heaven^ 
they hastened onward. 


After a long and wearisome journey, Rama and 
Lakshmana came to the beautiful lake of Pampa, with 
its wealth of water lilies and lotus blossoms. The 
sweet breath of the flowers mingled with the rich odor 
of the sandal trees, and multitudes of water birds with 
radiant plumage stood upon the green bank of the lake 
or hovered joyously over its crystal surface. Amidst the 
dense foliage on the other shore the wild cotton tree 
of India lifted here and there its leafless branches, 
glowing with heavy crimson blossoms, and over all the 
peaceful scene rested the benediction of the parting 
day. Here they remained through the night, the 
faithful Lakshmana making a bed of lotus for his 
brother and bringing water from the lake to bathe his 
weary feet. 

Rising early in the morning, they performed their 
customary ablutions in the clear waters of the lake. 

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and pressed forward toward the mountain Rishya- 
mukha, where lived the monkey raja, Sugriva/ 

Sugriva and his monkey counselors beheld their ap- 
proach from a fort on the top of the mountain, and 
the raja said, ^^ There are two men coming from the 
Pampa ; they are dressed like devotees, but they carry 
arms. I fear they are enemies/* 

But Hanuman, who was the chief among his coun- 
selors, answered, ^^Be of good cheer, oh Sugriva, for 
these are the sons of a raja, and they have come for 
our deliverance/* Then Hanuman descended the moun- 
tain to meet the travelers, and escorted them into the 
presence of his king. 

Rama told his story to Sugriva, and the monkey 
king replied, ^^Some days ago I was sitting here with 
my counselors, when a fearful darkness came -over the 
whole mountain, and looking upward we saw the 
terrible Ravana passing over us. In his arms he held 
a beautiful woman, who was calling upon the trees and 
the sun to rescue her, and who, as they passed us, 
threw down her ornaments and her veil, which we 
have kept, hoping to identify her by them." 

1 In the southern part of India there are multitudes of monkeys of great 
intelligence and shrewdness. « Their successful trips over almost impassable 
barriers and their apparent organization have made a strong impression 
upon the superstitious natives, who seem to regard them aS creatures half 
human and half divine. In the " Conclave of the Gods," when Vishnu 
promised to overthrow the demon, he commanded the other deities to 
assume the form of monkeys and come to his assistance. It is very proba- 
ble, however, that the monkeys of Southern India have been confounded 
with a race of aboriginal natives who worshiped this animal as a god. In a 
recent letter to the author on this subject Sir Monier Williams says, " The 
monkeys of the great Epics are really the aboriginal tribes of India, who 
belong to a lower type of humanity, and were in ancient times very like 
monkeys or apes in appearance (as they are even now where the aboriginal 
type is preserved). In the same way, the powerful Dravidians, who con- 
quered the aborigines and were a terror to the Aryan Invaders, are called 

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Sugriva then Bent for the ornaments and handed 
them to Rama. He took the little silver bells that 
had tinkled round her graceful ankles and raised them 
to his lips amidst a flood of tears ; the delicate veil he 
kissed over and over again, while all around him were 
deeply affected by the scene. 

Hanuman built a fire, and Rama and Sugriva made 
a covenant of mutual friendship before it. Then the 
monkey king told the story of his own grievance as 
follows : ** I am the younger son of a great monkey 
raja. One day, going out to hunt with my brother 
Bali, who had just ascended the throne, we found a 
demon, who fled into a cava Bali directed me to 
stand at the mouth of the cave while he went in and 
killed the demon. I stood there until I saw a stream 
of blood issuing from the cavern. Still my brother 
cam© not out. So, supposing that the demon had 
slain him, I stopped up the mouth of the cave with a 
rock and went back to the city. The monkeys accepted 
me as their raja. In a few days, however, my brother 
returned, and was very angry with me for supplanting 
him in the raj. He took my wife to be his own and 
banished me to this mountain, where I have no raj, as 
you may see, but only a few f3,ithful followers, who 
chose to share my exile.'* 

Then said Rama, ^^Cast aside, my friend, all fear 
of Bali; I promise to make you free. Put on your 
war dress and go to the gates of the palace and chal- 
lenge your brother to single combat, and when he comes 
out against you I will slay him.** 

Then Sugriva set out for the monkey city, accom- 
panied by Rama and Lakshmana. When they arrived. 

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the two brothers concealed themselves in the forest, 
while Sugriva went forward and in tones of thunder 
challenged Bali to single combat. Tara, the wife 
of Bali, tried to prevent him from going out, but 
maddened by the repeated challenge of his brother 
he finally flung himself upon him, and they struggled 
until Kama, seeing that the battle was going against 
Sugriva, sent an arrow through Bali and killed him. 
All of the monkeys set up pitiful cries and howls of 
rage when they saw that their king was slain, and the 
moans of the female monkeys were piteous to hear. 
But Sugriva was beside himself with joy when he 
learned that his brother had fallen before the arrow of 

The chosen monkeys placed the dead body of Bali 
upon a litter and taking it upon their shoulders car- 
ried it to the burning pyre, followed by the other mon- 
keys, crying bitterly. The hypocritical Sugriva occu- 
pied a prominent place among the mourners. After 
the funeral rites were completed, Sugriva took again 
his own wife; Euma, and also appropriated Tara, the 
widow of Bali. It was agreed by all th^ monkeys 
that Sugriva should be their raja, and that Angada, 
the son of Bali, should be installed as the Yuva-raja. 
Sugriva was therefore installed as the raja of the 
whole kingdom of monkeys,* and as the rainy season 

1 J. Talboys Wheeler says, in his "History of India," ."The narra- 
tive of Rama's alliance with the monkeys exercises a weird influence 
upon the Imagination. . . . The mind is called upon to deal with 
nondescript beings, half monkey and half man ; haying long tails and 
walking upon all fours, and yet performing funeral rites for a deceased 
raja, and installing a successor upon the throne, with all the form and 
ceremony of human beings. It was a monkey raja, surrounded by his 
monkey counselors, who beheld the approach of Rama and his brother 
from the bastion of their fort on the mountain. The combats between 

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had now commenced, Rama told Sugrlva to enjoy him- 
self in his new capital until the rains were over, and 
then go with him in search of Sita. 


When the rainy season closed, and the land of India 
was luxuriant with the glories of her new foliage and 
delicate blossoms, a large force of monkeys was gath- 
ered together and sent out in search of Sita. The 
troops were under the command of Hanuman, who 
was the shrewdest and most powerful of all the mon- 
key generals. When he departed he asked of Rama 
some token which he could give to Sita if he found 
her, as a proof that he was indeed a messenger sent 
from her husband. Rama gave him a ring which he 
had received on his wedding day from Janaka, the 
father of Sita. 

The expedition moved to the southward and searched 
the country in every direction without finding any 
clew to the location of the fair captive. After a 
month spent in this way they were t'eturning to 
Sugriva, discouraged and disconsolate, when one 
evening, as they had composed their weary limbs for 
the night, they saw upon a distant crag the chief of 
-vultures, Sarhpati. One of the monkeys ventured to 
climb up the crag where he was sitting and inquired 

Sugriva and Bali are the combats of monkeys. As regards the narra- 
tive, it certainly seems to refer to some real event among the aborigi- 
nal tribes : viz., the quarrel between an elder and a younger brother 
for the possession of a raj, and the subsequent alliance of Rama with 
the younger brother. It is somewhat remarkable that Rama appears to 
have formed an alliance with the wrong party, for the right of Bali 
was evidently superior to that of Sugriva, and it is especially worthy 
of note that Rama compassed the death of Bali by an act contrary to 
aU the rules of fair fighting." (See Vol. II, pp. 323-824.) 

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reverently of him if he remembered having seen 
the demon king rushing through the air during the 
last few months. '' Indeed/^ answered the vulture, ^^ I 
remember it well, for I was upon the wing in search 
of food, and not a living creature was in sight. A 
terrible horror seemed to fill the very air, and not 
even a mouse ventured forth that I might appease 
my hunger. As I searched everywhere in vain I 
noticed that the sky was growing dark, as if a tem- 
pest were hovering above us, and glancing upward I 
saw the terrible Havana. Ilis fiery eyes glared upon 
me; but his attention was diverted from me by a pit- 
iful cry from a beautiful woman whom he held in 
his arms, and hurrying into a thicket I escaped with 
my life.'^ ^^That beautiful woman is the object of 
our search,'^ said the monkey. ^^Can you tell me which 
way the demon went ? '' 

'^ Yes, he went toward the island of Ceylon, and 
it is doubtless in his palace in the city of Lanka that 
you will find his captive,"' responded Sampati, as he 
smoothed his feathers and began to make himself com- 
fortable for the night. ^*I have often soared above it, 
and it is the finest city in this part of the world ; 
but the Eakshasas who inhabit it are even more dan- 
gerous and terrible then men are, and I would advise 
you monkeys to stay away and let them alone.'* But 
the adventurous messenger, overjoyed at the reception 
of the tidings, hastened to his commander with the 
information. As soon as the morning dawned Hanu- 
man awoke his followers, and after a hasty breakfast 
of fruit and leaves in the branches of the trees the 
little fellows started bravely for the sea coast. But 

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they beheld the island they sought fully sixty miles 
from the shore, nor were there boats or bridges to en- 
able them to make the hazardous passage. 

Hanuman called for volunteers to go to the island 
and obtain the desired information, but not one of the 
dismayed little soldiers raised a hand. At last Hanu- 
man said, ^^As none of you dare to undertake it, I 
will go myself. But I shall jump all the way across 
these great billows, and land upon the island.*^ Then 
there was a great cheering and chattering, for besides 
the admiration felt for their brave commander, every 
ape was greatly relieved to know that he would not 
be compelled to undertake the task. Hanuman then 
distended his form until it was as large as a moun- 
tain, and his body glittered like gold in the sunlight, 
while his face was as red as rubies. His arms were 
extended like the wings of a great dragon, and his 
tail was so long that the end of it could not be seen. 
He took his position upon the mountain Mandara (the 
fabled center of the earth) and cried in a voice of 

^^ Swift as a shaft from Kama's bow 
To Ea van's city I will go." 

Then extending his long arms he drew in his neck, 
erected his ears, and raising himself upon the moun- 
tain sprang toward the south and alighted upon the 
island of Ceylon with a bound that made the island 
tremble. The demon king sent for his counselors and 
demanded of them why the earth was quivering beneath 
his capital city. They answered that it was an earth- 
quake, but one who was bolder than the others vent- 

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ured to hint that the earthquake had been sent by 
the gods on account of the detention of Sita, and ad- 
vised that she be restored to her friends before the 
island was entirely destroyed. But the haughty king 
replied that he had not sent for them because he 
needed any advice, and angrily dismissed his coun- 


Hanuman had alighted upon the summit of the Sa- 
bula mountain, and stood looking down upon the city 
of Lanka, which was a hundred miles in length and 
thirty in breadth. It was completely surrounded by 
numerous walls and canals, one within another. Inside 
of the great outer canal was a broad belt of thick for- 
est, which was infested with wild animals. Inside of 
that was an impenetrable wall of iron, with a gate on 
each of the four sides, guarded by hundreds of Rak- 
shasas. Lanka itself was beautified with lakes and 
parks and palaces of Oriental magnificence. In the 
center of the city rose the lofty domes of the palace of 
Havana, and every parapet was crowded with armed 
demons, whose duty it was to guard their king, whether 
he was asleep or awake. 

In order to reconnoiter without alarming the foe, 
Hanuman assumed the form of a cat. In this shape 
he slipped by the guards arid through the gates with 
perfect impunity. The broad streets were set with 
gems, but such was the discipline of Ravana that no 
one dared to pick one up, even if it became loosened 
in its setting. The magnificent houses were open to 
receive the cool air of the evening, and within them he 

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saw hideous Rakshasas, of every shape and form. 
Some of them were as tall as the trees and others were 
dwarfs. Some of them had only two legs, while others 
had three or four. Some had heads like serpents, 
others wore the features of donkeys. Some had heads 
like horses, while the faces of others were decorated 
with trunks like elephants. 

While the monkey general in the shape of a cat was 
carefully observing these things, the shades of night 
settled down upon the city and the streets were 


After the demons had fallen asleep, the strange 
scout slipped quietly into the palace of raja Eavana. 
This resplendent mansion was surrounded on all sides 
with a canal, from whose clear waters rose the green 
leaves and bright blossoms of the lotus, while the even- 
ing air was laden with their fragrance. Within this 
watery barrier the golden walls arose to such a height 
that the birds could not fly above them, and the pil- 
lars on each side of the gates were made of black 
crystal. The gates were guarded by thousands of 
Rakshasas, and over the walls floated the soft strains 
of music. ^^ Surely, ^^ thought the little spy, ^Hhis raja 
Ravana must have been a very virtuous man in his 
former life, and for this reason he enjoys so much 
wealth now.^^ Then he slipped through the gate and 
into the inner apartments of the palace, where he 
found fountains and pools of clear water, with masses 
of gorgeous tropical flowers around them. 

The sleeping room of Ravana presented a scene of 

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barbaric splendor. The walls were blazing with gold 
and gems, while the floor was inlaid with black crys- 
tal. The royal couch was as beautiful as art could 
make it. The draperies were as soft and white as 
waves of milk. Golden jars filled with water stood in 
the corners of the room, and lamps of precious stones 
were hung from the ceiling. Hundreds of beautiful 
women were sleeping in various parts of the great 
room, and the demon king lay upon his royal bed, a 
crown of gold upon each black and terrible head, and his 
twenty hands laden with heavy jeweled rings. While 
he slept, Hanuman looked carefully around the room, 
but among all the beautiful women there he found no 
one that answered to the description of Sita. Leaving 
the palace, he entered a luxuriant 


He hastily climbed into the branches of one of the 
trees ^ and looking around him saw not far away a 
beautiful woman, whose eyes were red with constant 
weeping. She was sitting sadly upon the ground sur- 
rounded by hideous Kakshasa women. The fair girl 
reminded him of a beautiful doe surrounded by tigresses, 
which were ready at any moment to feed upon her 
delicate flesh. Her attendants were pleading with her 
to become the wife of Ravana, but she only replied 
by chanting in a sweet minor key the name of 
"Rama!'' "Rama!'' 

While Hanuman still looked, the demon king him- 
self appeared, attended by all the women of his court. 

1 The Jonesia Afoka is one of the loveliest trees of that tropical clime, its 
foliage being crowned with a profusion of gorgeous red blossoms. 

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The little spy then crept along the branches nearer to 
Sita. When Ravana with his attendants came into the 
grove, she started and shivered with terror. The raja 
appealed to her to wipe away her tears and enjoy the 
luxuries of his court. ^^ Do not fear me," he said, "for 
I am your slave and you need have no fear of being 
discovered by others, for no man can enter my palace. 
Let me send for women who will wash you with water 
and costly perfumes ; who will dress your beautiful 
hair and adorn your lovely form with magnificent robes 
and the richest jewels of the east. You shall be the 
mistress of all my other wives and the queen of my 
heart. ^^ 

But Sita answered, "Oh, lord of Lanka, you are 
renowned throughout the world for your wealth, strength, 
and valor. Do not, I implore you, soil your reputa- 
tion by wickedness. Eestore me, I pray you, to my 
husband, Eama, and entreat his forgiveness. My hus- 
band is my wealth. He is more to me than all the 
riches at your command. ^^ 

He continued to plead with her until she turned 
upon him and threatened him with the anger of her 
husband. " Oh, wicked Havana,^* she cried, "you have 
not long to live. Your golden Lanka will soon be a 
heap of ashes and your numberless army shall fall like 
ripened grain before the arrows of Rama. There is as 
much difference between you and him as there is be- 
tween a mouse and a lion, or a mosquito and a hawk. 
You are only a glow-worm, but he is. the noonday sun. 
You are a grain of sand, but he is a precious 

Stung by her taunts, the demon's eyes flashed fire. 

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^^ Thy language/^ said he, " is more like that of a 
master than of a creature who is helpless in my hands. 
I will give thee, however, two months in which to 
decide the matter, and if at the end of that time 
thou consent not to become my wife, 

^* My cooks shall mince thy limbs with steel. 
And serve thee for my morning meal/' 

He turned haughtily away and with his attendants 
returned to his palace. 


At last she was left alone with her agony and ter- 
ror ; but while she moaned aloud in her suffering, she 
heard a voice in the trees above her sweetly chanting 
tho name of ^^Eama.'' Looking upward she saw only 
a diminutive monkey and concluded that the voice 
was an illusion. But the monkey said, *^I am the 
slave of Kama, and I have been sent by him to dis- 
cover his bride ; " then coming quickly down from the 
tree and bowing himself before her he proved his 
claim by presenting her with Eama's signet ring. At 
the sight of the ring she wept for joy and catching 
hold of the precious jewel pressed it to her lips, then 
placed it upon her head in token of his sovereignty 
and afterwards clasped it to her heart. Hanuman 
proposed to carry her away upon his back, but she 
answered that so small a monkey could not carry her 
across the ocean. Thereupon he increased his size to 
more than giant proportions, and while she looked at 
him in wonder she said, " I do believe you could carry 
me; but I will never willingly touch the form of 

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any man except my husband. Besides, if you took me 
away by stealth, the world would say that Rama is a 
coward and is unable to punish Eavana/' So she 
dismissed him with loving messages for her husband 
and with an admonition for him to hasten to her re- 
lief, as only two months remained for her to live 
unless he came. She- sent to Rama the only ring she 
still possessed and placed his upon her own finger, 
begging Hanuman to hasten his departure with her 


But Rama's messenger was not content to leave the 
beautiful island without avenging in some way Sita's 
wrong upon the demon king; so in the form of an 
immense baboon he rushed into a beautiful grove of 
mango trees, and tore off the rich fruit and foliage, 
breaking the branches until he destroyed every tree in 
the grove. The guards of Rakshasas were awakened 
by the noise, and instead of stopping to do battle 
with the invader, they rushed off and informed the 
king that a huge monkey had entered Lanka and was 
destroying all his trees. 

When Ravana heard of this, he ordered an army of 
eighty thousand Rakshasas to capture the invader and 
bring him in chains before the king. But the valiant 
monkey after a short conflict sent the whole body of 
troops to the regions of Yama. When the king heard 
that his soldiers were all slain, he sent the giants of 
his army, but they too met the same fate. At last a 
shrewd Rakshasa captured the marauder with a pow- 
erful noose, and he was led into the council hall of 

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Hanuman then defied the king to his face and de- 
claring himself to be the ambassador of Eama de- 
manded the restoration of Sita. But the king arose 
from his throne in a terrible rage and ordered that 
the monkey should be beheaded. His chief counselor, 
however, declared that they had no right to kiU an 
ambassador, although, according to the Sastras, they 
could mutilate him in one of three ways. He might 
be disfigured, or beaten with stripes, or his head 
might be shaved. 

Then said Eavana, ^*I will not kill this monkey, 
but he shall not go unpunished ; and as his tail is his 
principal ornament, I shall have it set on fire and 


The king^s orders were quickly obeyed, and the 
monkey^s tail was wrapped with inflammable fabrics, 
which were soaked with oil and set on fire. But Han- 
uman immediately reduced his body to a diminutive 
size and, slipping quickly out of the noose, sprang 
upon a wall, and before they could recapture him was 
lashing the roof with his fiaming tail. 

" He scaled the palaces, and spread 
The conflagration where he sped. 
From house to house he hurried on, 
And the wild flames behind him shone. 
Each mansion of the foe he scaled. 
And furious fire its ro'of assailed. 
Till all the common ruin shared. 
Vibhishan^s^ house alone was spared. 

1 The counselor who had saved his Ufe. 

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From blazing pile to pile he sprang, 
And loud his shout of triumph rang. 

Loud was the roar the demons raised 

'Mid walls that split and beams that blazed, 

As each with vain endeavor strove 

To stay the flames in house or grove. 

He saw the flames ascend and curl 

Bound turkis, diamond, and pearl. 

While silver floods and molten gold 

From ruined wall and lattice rolled 

As fire grows fiercer as it feeds 

On wood and grass and crackling weeds, 

So Hanuman the ruin eyed. 

With fury still unsatisfied/' 


Leaving the blazing city to be cared for by its ter- 
ror-stricken inhabitants, Hanuman rushed to the sea- 
shore and with a mighty leap landed in the midst of 
his own troops and triumphantly related the story of 
his exploits in Lanka. The army was placed in 
marching order and joyfully set out to carry the glad 
tidings to raja Sugriva, chanting as they advanced the 
name of Rama. When they arrived at the court 
Hanuman advanced into the royal presence, bowing 
himself before the monkey raja and also before Rama, 
to whom he told the story of his adventures. He 
placed in Rama's hand the ring which Sita had given 
him, and delivered her messages, saying that unless 
she could be rescued within two months, Ravana would 
surely accomplish his murderous threat. Rama received 

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the jewel with great emotion and made a solemn vow 

that within two months the demon king should pay 
the penalty of his fearful crime. 

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ONE bright morning the tropical sun looked down 
upon an innumerable host of monkeys ready to 
march upon Lanka at the word of command. The raja 
had given the control of his troops into the hands of 
Rama, who was the commander general of the expe- 
dition, while Lakshmana and Sugriva were his chiefs 
of staff. The vast army extended in length a thou- 
sand miles. When they were all arrayed in military 
order, the heroic monkeys sounded their conch shells, 
and the earth trembled beneath their exultant screams 
and the lashing of their tails.^ The innumerable host 
poured over the mountains and through the great for- 
ests, and living upon the fruits and leaves of the 

1 See the Adhyatma version which is divided into seven books bear- 
ing the same titles as Valmiki's version. Its object is to show that 
Rama is a representation of the Supreme Spirit, and that Sita is a type 
of Nature. 


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trees they desolated the land like an army of locusts, 
leaving not even a flower in their track. They swept 
like a torrent over the fertile fields and flowery vales, 
until they reached the fair shores of 


Here they called a halt, for before them the wild 
billows foamed with rage and the dark tide came 
sweeping in closer and closer to their feet with every 
.throbbing pulse from the great heart of the ocean. 
Lanka lay in safety far beyond their sight, entrenched 
behind the pathless billows. While the chiefs were 
gathered in counsel upon the shore, another night came 
down upon them and the starlight touched with sil- 
ver the heads of the dashing waves. 

Wearied by the rapid march and perplexed by the 
hopeless situation, Eama left the council of his chiefs 
and with his head bared to the cool night air walked 
slowly to the water^s edge. As the dark breakers 
came rolling in he bent above them, invoking the aid 
of the fair goddess of the sea, when suddenly in the 
coral chambers beneath the surf there flashed a phos- 
phorescent light, which slowly formed itself into a 
beautiful woman. Her white shoulders gleamed like 
pearl beneath the tide and her crimson lips were wet 
with the kisses of Neptune. Her heavy hair was bound 
with delicate sprays of the seaweed and her shell- 
tinted robe was fastened with branches of coral. In 
gentle tones she asked, *^What wilt thou, Rama, that 
I shall do for thee ? '^ '^ Fair goddess of the sea,^^ he 
cried, ^^ a demon has stolen my wife away and crushed 
my heart beneath his feet. My beautiful bride is a 

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prisoner on yonder isle — help me to bridge this path- 
less deep and avenge her wrongs with my gallant 

Again her silvery voice was heard amid the roaring 
of the surf : *^ Say to Nala that he shall build a 
bridge, and every stone he touches shall float upon my 
waves/' Then turning away she waved her graceful 
hand, and the dark drapery of the waves hid her from 
his sight. 


As soon as the crimson light of morning kissed 
the mountain peaks and crowned the ocean waves with 
light, Eama sounded upon his conch shell the call of 
^^ Attention. '^ Promptly his troops were gathered at 
his feet, and he sent for Nala, the shrewdest general 
in his army. After giving him a few directions he 
turned to the rank and file and ordered them to bring 
to Nala all the material they could find, with which 
to build a bridge to the fair island of Ceylon, that 
they might march in triumph to its capital city. All 
the weariness of the long march was forgotten, and 
the order was received with screams and shouts of ex- 
ultation. In a few minutes thousands of monkeys 
were running in every direction, and bringing to N"ala 
rocks and the trunks of trees, with which to build 
the gi-eat bridge. Even mountains were torn up and 
hurled upon the waters, where beneath the magic touch 
of Nala every tree and stone and the great masses of 
earth floated together into one unyielding mass. 

In the meantime the mother of Ravana began to 
see evil omens on every side, and calling to her other 

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Bon, Yibhishana, she begged of him to advise Kavana 
to restore Sita to her husband. But Eavana was so 
vain and self-conceited that he would receive no advice 
from his friends, and only abused his brother for in- 
terfering with his affairs. The bridge was at last com- 
pleted, and one night the strange army marched over 
it and encamped on the island of Lanka, near the 
Sabula Mountain. Vibhishana, the brother of Kavana, 
deserted his people and went over to the camp of 
Rama ; whereupon the commanding general ordered 
water to be brought from the sea, and pouring it upon 
the head of Vibhishana declared him to be the raja 
of Lanka instead of his brother Eavana. 


Kavana sat in state in his council hall upon a 
throne set with precious stones. Ten crowns of pearls 
and jewels were upon his ten heads and thousands of 
giants surrounded his court. A rich canopy of strung 
pearls was suspended over his throne and he held a 
wine cup in his hand, while beautiful girls amused him 
with dance and song. 

But his counselors entered his chamber and in- 
formed him that Kama had landed his troops and was 
preparing to attack the city. He immediately sent for 
the commander-in-chief of his armies and told him to 
gather the hosts of the Eakshasas and make ready for 
battle. At the sound of the bugle they were drawn 
up in military array before the demon king, who or- 
dered them to meet the invaders at the gates of the 
city and bring him the heads of their chiefs. The 
army of demons marched out of the fortress to the 

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strains of discordant music. Their cavalry was mounted 
on buffaloes, camels, lions, hyenas, wolves, and even 
hogs. Their arms consisted of swords, clubs, bows and 
arrows, spears, and many nondescript weapons. 

In the meantime Eama, having marshaled the ranks 
of the monkeys, placed himself at their head, and led 
them to the attack. Some of them had torn up the 
trunks of trees for weapons and some carried immense 
rocks in their arms, while others depended upon their 
teeth and nails, which they had sharpened like swords. 
They were drawn up in long lines of battle, with ten 
million monkeys in each line. Sounding their shells 
they marched to the fray shouting, '^Victory to 
Eama ! '^ The fight was long and the issue doubtful, 
when Sugriva, seizing a large tree, tore it up by the 
roots and hurled it upon Indrajit, the famous son of 
Kavana, who had once conquered Indra. The tree 
crushed his chariot and killed his horses and charioteer. 
The demon retreated and offered a sacrifice to Agni, 
when suddenly out of the fire came a golden chariot 
drawn by four horses, and Indrajit, seating himself 
within it, became invisible and discharged his arrows at 
Kama and Lakshmana, who could not see whence they 
came. At last he threw a noose made of serpents over 
the two brothers and caught them in its meshes. But 
Garu^a, the bird upon which Vishnu rides, came to the 
rescue, and when the serpents saw him they fled, 
leaving the brothers unharmed. 

Finding that the tide of battle was going against 
his troops Etlvana marched to the field in person at 
the head of powerful re-enforcements. His ten faces 
were black with rage and his heads appeared like 

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rough mountains. His twenty eyes gleamed like fiery 
furnaces and his eyebrows and whiskers were com- 
posed of the shining bodies of black serpents. As the 
terrible conflict continued, Bama and Kavana came 
face to face in the fight and were soon engaged in 


The god Indra looked down from heaven, and seeing 
that Rama was without a chariot, sent him his own, 
with armor and weapons, and also his charioteer. As 
the terrible duel progressed, growing more and more 
desperate every hour, the gods became so absorbed in 
the fight that they could not refrain from joining in 
the fray, even as the gods of Greece took part in the 
siege of Troy. 

^' When the powers descending swelled the fight 
Then tumult rose ; fierce rage and pale affright 
Varied each face ; then Discord sounds alarms. 
Earth echoes, and the nations rush to arms. 
Now through the trembling shores Minerva calls. 
And now she thunders from the Grecian walls. 
Mars, hovering o^er his Troy, his terror shrouds 
In gloomy tempest and a night of clouds. ^^^ 

Vishnu and Indra with all their allies took sides 
with Kama, while the evil spirits joined their forces 
with Ravana. The demon king rode in a magic car 
which was drawn by horses having human faces. The 
armies on both sides soon stopped fighting, for the 
whole interest of the troops was concentrated upon the 
terrible confiict between Rama and Ravana, in which the 

in., Book XX. 

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gods themselves took part. The demon king was at 
last driven from the field by his charioteer, but he furi- 
ously commanded him to return to the fight. The 
battle raged with undiminished fury for seven days 
and nights. Again and again Eavana was borne down 
by the missiles of Eama, and his charioteer drove his 
master in a fainting condition to the walls of his castle. 
As soon as he recovered, however, he angrily bade him 
return to the contest. 

^' With wondrous power and mighty skill 
The giant fought with Rama still. 
Each at his foe his chariot drove. 
And still for death or victory strove. 
The warriors^ steeds together dashed. 
And pole with pole re-echoing clashed. 
Dense clouds of arrows Eama shot 
With that strong arm that rested not ; 
And spear and ma<3e and club and brand 
Fell in dire rain from Eavan^s hand. 
The storm of missiles fiercely cast 
Stirred up the oceans with its blast. 
And serpent-gods and fiends who dwell 
Below were troubled by the swell. 
The earth with hill and plain and brook 
And grove and garden reeled and shook ; 
The very sun grew cold and pale. 
And horror stilled the rising gale.^^ 

As the fight grew more and more desperate, the 
combatants drew closer, and at last an arrow hissing 
from Eama's bow cut off one of Eavana's heads; but 
like the hydra whose heads were severed by Hercules, 

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another immediately grew in its place. Again and 
again he cut a head from the demon, only to see it re- 
newed by the time he could draw his bow again. 

'' Then to his deadly string, the pride 
Of Raghu's race^ a shaft applied. 
Sharp as a serpent^s venomed fang. 
Straight to its mark the arrow sprang 
And from the giant^s body shred 
With trenchant steel the monstrous head. 
There might the triple world behold 
That severed head adorned with gold ; 
But when all eyes were bent to view. 
Swift in its stead another - grew. 
Again the shaft was pointed well. 
Again the head divided fell ; 
But still as each to earth was cast. 
Another head succeeded fast. 
A hundred bright with fiery flame 
Fell low before the victor's aim. 
Yet Eavan by no sign betrayed 
That death was near or strength decayed ; 
The doubtful fight he still maintained 
And on his foe his missiles rained. 
In air, on earth, on plain, on hill. 
With awful might he battled still. 
And through the hours of night and day 
The conflict knew no pause or stay.'' 

Rama, however, had the charmed arrow which had 
been given to him by Brahma to use only as a last 

1 Raghu was the great-grandfather of Rama. 

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256 the ancient books of india. 

Havana's death. 

"Then Matali to Eama cried, 
* Let other arms the day decide ; 
LauHch at the foe thy dart whose fire 
Was kindled by the Almighty Sire.' 
He ceased, and Raghu's son obeyed. 
Upon his string the hero laid 
An arrow like a snake that hissed. 
Whose fiery flight had never missed. 
By Brahma's self on him bestowed 
When forth to fight. Lord Indra rode. 

He laid it on the trusted cord 

And turned the point at Ijanka's lord ; 

And swift the limb-dividing dart 

Pierced the huge chest and cleft the heart. 

And dead he fell upon the plain, 

Like Vritra * by the Thunderer slain. 

The Rakshas host when Ravan fell. 

Sent forth a wild, terrific yell. 

Then, turned and fled, all hope resigned. 

Through Lanka's gates, nor looked behind. 

His voice each joyous Vanar raised. 

And ^Rama, conquering Rama/ praised. 

Soft from celestial minstrels came 

The sound of music and acclaim ; 

Soft, fresh, and cool, a rising breeze 

Brought odors from the heavenly trees ; 

And, ravishing the sight and smell, 

A wondrous rain of blossoms fell ; 

1 The spirit of evil who was slain by Indra, "the Thunderer," 

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And voices breathed round Eaghu's son, 
^Champion of gods, well done, well done/'^ 

Ere long the cry that the monarch had fallen was 
borne to his palace, and all his wives came out with 
disheveled hair and went to the battle-field, uttering 
bitter cries as they passed through the terror-stricken 
throng in the streets. When they came to the dead 
body of the demon, some of them fainted and others 
caressed the hideous creature as if he were still alive. 
Rama was touched by their sorrow, and ordered Vib- 
hishana to take the women back to the inner apart- 
ments of the palace and perform the funeral rites for 
his brother Ravana. 

The dead raja was buried with elaborate ceremonies 
and all the pomp appropriate to an imperial funeral. 
As soon as the days of mourning were ended, Vibhi- 
shana was installed as raja of Lanka. 


When all the rites had been performed, Rama for- 
mally demanded of the new raja the return of his wife. 
Vibhishana immediately ordered that a multitude of 
maids should attend upon Sitfi ; that they should dress 
her hair and adorn her person in a way that befitted 
her queenly estate. She had received the crown of 
youth from the aged devotee in the forest and was 
beautiful as a dream. Neither tears nor suffering had 
power to mar her bright face or change the delicate 
lines of her beautiful mouth. 

His lovely queen was brought in imperial state to 
Rama, attended by a long procession of musicians and 
dancing girls, her palanquin well-nigh covered with 

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flowers. Eama ordered the carriage to be opened and 
bade his wife descend, that her great beauty might be 
seen by the troops who had so valiantly fought for her 
rescue. Although this order was a violation of Hindu 
etiquette, which did not allow a wife to be seen un- 
veiled, the loving Sita obeyed without hesitation and 
stepped out in full view of the multitude. A low 
murmur of admiration passed through the throng as 
the beautiful vision dawned upon them. Sita stood in 
the presence of her lord, with her loving eyes upoii the 
ground, while with joined hands she reverently waited 
his summons to fly into his arms. The thought of his 
loving welcome had been her only comfort in the ter- 
rible hours of her captivity, and her loyal heart hun- 
gered for the warm love and caresses which had been 
her life in the years that were gone. 

But no word of affection, no look of love, greeted 
the restored captive. With folded arms and stony eyes 
he thus addressed her : 

" Lady, at length my task is done. 
And thou, the prize of war, art won. 
• ••.••• 

If from my home my queen was reft, 
This arm hath well avenged the theft ; 
And in the field has washed away 
The blot that on my honor lay. 

But, lady, ^twas not love for thee 
That led mine army o'er th^ sea. 

I battled to avenge the cause 
Of honor and insulted laws. 

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My love is fled, for on thy fame 
Lies the dark blot of sin and shame. 
And thou art hateful as the light 
That flashes on the injured sight ; 
The world is all before thee ; flee ! 
Go where thou wilt, but not with me. 

For Eavan bore thee through the sky. 
And fixed on thine his evil eye ; 
About thy waist his arm he threw, . 
Close to his breaat his captive drew. 
And kept thee, vassal of his power. 
An inmate of his ladies^ bower. ^^ 

At these cruel words the smooth cheek paled with 
agony, the beautiful eyes filled with tears, and the 
delicate frame quivered beneath his scorn like an aspen 
leaf swept by a terrible tempest. 


The beautiful woman stood trembling in the pres- 
ence of the man she had so long worshiped, and who 
had chosen to reward her devotion by public humilia- 
tion and accusation. At last amidst her sobs she 
answered : 

^^ Canst thou, a high-bom prince, dismiss 
A high-born dame with speech like this ? 
Such words befit the meanest kind. 
Not princely birth and generous mind. 
By all my virtuous life I swear 
I am not what thy words declare. 
If some are faithless, wilt thou find 

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. No love or truth in womankind ? 
Doubt others if thou wilt, but own 
The truth which all my life has shown. 
If when the giant seized his prey 
Within his hated arms I lay 
And felt the grasp I dreaded, blame 
Fate and the robber, not thy dame. 
What could a helpless woman do ? 
My heart was thine and still was true.^^ 

Then turning to his brother Lakshmana, who had 
always been her loyal friend, she commanded him to 
prepare for her a funeral pile, declaring that its fire 
was her only refuge in her dark despair. Said she, 
^'1 will not live beneath the weight of the shame and 
injustice which have been heaped upon me; I will 
end my woes by entering the fire, and thou, my 
brother, in preparing it for me wilt prove my best 
and truest friend." 

'^ His mournful eyes the hero raised 
And wistfully on Kama gazed. 
In whose stem look no ruth was seen, 
No mercy for the weeping queen. 
No chieftain dared to meet those eyes. 
To pray, to question, or advise. 
The word was passed, the wood was piled. 
And fain to die stood Janak's child. 
She slowly paced around her lord. 
The gods with reverent act adored. 
Then, raising suppliant hands, the dame 
Prayed humbly to the lord of flame : 
•^As this fond heart by virtue swayed 

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TfiE stOry of the bAmIyaka. ^61 

From Kaghu^s son has never strayed. 

So universal witness, fire. 

Protect my body on the pyre. 

As Kaghu^s son has idly laid 

This charge on Sita, hear and aid/ 

She ceased and, fearless to the last. 

Within the flames' wild fury passed/' 

Lakshmana and others looked anxiously at Rama, 
expecting to see some sign of relenting in his stony 
face ; but he was the victim of his own false ideafe 
concerning woman's purity and honor and stood look- 
ing on with folded arms, while the flames wreathed 
the fair form of his wife. The beautiful victim quiv- 
ered in anguish, and cries of reproach came from the 
troops. When it was too late to save her from her 
fate, Rama seemed to relent, and he cried, ^^ Alas ! 
I have reproached her for nothing — I shall never find 
so faithful a wife again." But the cruel pyre blazed 
on amidst the cries and lamentations of the multitude, 
when lo ! the god of fire came forth from the flames, 
bearing Sita in his arms, a beautiful living queen. 

'^ Fair as the morning was her sheen. 
And gold and gems adorned the queen. 
Her form in crimson robes arrayed. 
Her hair was bound in glossy braid." 

Giving her to Rama Agni said: ^^Take her as 
your wife. She is without a stain. I know the 
hearts of all, and had she the shadow of a stain upon 
her chastity she could never have passed in safety from 
me." Then Rama placed his arm around her, and 

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ashamed to confess the great wrong that he had done 
her, complacently said, '^ I knew my beloved Sita was 
chaste and true, but 1 put her to the test of the fire, 
lest men should blame me. Now I am free from all 
censure/' His troops applauded him, and Sita, with 
that womanly forgiveness which is so nearly akin to 
the divine, nestled again in her husband's bosom. 


The time of his exile was now drawing to a close, and 
Rama ordered that the great golden chariot^ which 
had been used by Ravana should be made ready for 
their triumphal departure. But Sugriva and all of 
the monkeys, and Vibhishana, and even the inhabi- 
tants of Lanka, begged that they might be allowed to 
witness his inauguration at Ayodhya. Rama therefore 
commanded that all of the monkeys and all of the 
Rakshasas should enter the golden chariot. Then the 
great car, laden with millions of monkeys and demons, 
with Rama and Sita in the seat of honor, arose in the 
air and flew rapidly to the northward. When they 
arrived at the beautiful mountain of Citra-kuta, Rama 
sent Hanuman to the city in order to inform his 
brother Bharata of his approach. 

When the younger brother received the glad news 
he summoned his counselors together and issued a joy- 
ful proclamation to the people : '^ Cast aside all sorrow 
and grief and prepare to receive Rama. Let the whole 
city be adorned and let worship be offered to every 
god. Let every horse and elephant and chariot be 

1 This was the self-moving car Pushpaka, which the demon king had stolen 
from the god of wealth. 

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gotten ready, and let every man go out to meet Rama 
on his return to Ayodhya/^ 

When the people heard that Rama was indeed re- 
turning, the whole city rejoiced and began to array 
itself for the festival. The streets were swept and 
sprinkled with perfumed waters and strewn with flow- 
ers. At the foot of every tree was plaped a golden jar 
of sacred water, filled with the beautiful branches of 
the mango tree or sprays of the feathery tamarind 
and wreathed with tropical flowers. The houses were 
also decorated with floral designs and with flags. Then 
the great procession was formed, and with flying ban- 
ners and strains of music the whole army went out to 
greet Rama. Upon his head Bharata carried his 
brother's golden sandals, above which was held the 
royal canopy. Two men attended the sandals, fanning 
them with snow-white fans. Bharata was surrounded 
by all the ministers and counselors of the raj and by 
a multitude of people from the city. When Rama 
and his attendants met them, the forest resounded 
with shouts of welcome. The two brothers embraced 
each other affectionately, and through the long lines 
rang the shout of '^Victory to Rama!^^ 

Rama bowed at the feet of Kausalya, and the glad 
mother took her son once more in her arms and 
blessed him with her warm caresses. Rama dismissed 
the chariot Pushpaka, and bade it return to its right- 
ful owner, Kuvera, (the god of wealth) from whom it 
had been taken by Ravana. Then Rama and his 
brothers were bathed with perfumed waters and an- 
ointed with fragrant oils, and laying aside their de- 
votee's dress of bark put on a costume of yellow silk. 

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with many jewels. The ladies of the court attended 
to the toilet of Sita, and she, too, was arrayed in ex- 
quisite garments. 

The great procession then started to return to 
Ayodhya, and Kama directed the monkeys to choose 
whatever conveyance they pleased. Some of them, 
therefore, mounted the chariots or suspended them- 
selves from the edge above the wheels, and others 
curled their tails around the tusks of the elephants 
and rocked to the swaying motion of the animals, 
while others still clung to the manes of the horses. 
When all was ready the strains of music again pealed 
through the forest, and the great procession went 
back to the capital city. 

Rama was installed as the raja amid the great re- 
joicing of the people, and the city wore its gala robes, 
while the streets resounded with glad music for many 
days and nights. '^Long live Maha-raja Rama,^^ was 
the joyous cry that rang through the air at all hours 
of the night, and ^^ Long live Maha-raja Rama,'^ was 
the glad refrain that greeted the light of the morn- 
ing. Day after day musicians haunted the windows 
of the palace, chanting the praises of the imperial 
pair, and the years went softly by, wearing the 
sandals of peace and the bright robes of happiness. 

'' No widow mourned her murdered mate, 
No house was ever desolate ; 
The happy land no murrain knew. 
The flocks and herds increased and grew. 
The earth her kindly fruits supplied ; 
No harvest failed — no children died. 

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Unknown were want, disease and crime. 
So calm, so happy was the time/' 


At last, however, it began to be whispered in the 
capital that a woman who had spent months of her 
life at the court of the demon king was unfit to be 
the queen of Ayodhya. One of his ministers who was 
bolder than the others found courage to say to Rama, 
*' There is poverty among your subjects, oh, Maha- 
raja ! because of your sin in taking Sita back/' The 
cloud of discontent continued to gather around the 
royal pair, and occasionally the rumors were brought to 
the ears of the king. He knew that his wife was as 
pure as the snow upon the distant peak of the Hima- 
laya ; he knew that she was as far above immorality as 
that icy coronal was above the dust in the vale at its 
feet. The god of fire had brought her out of the 
flames because of her unconquerable chastity, and had 
presented her to him as pure gold is brought from 
the crucible. But this divine Rama, the mere chant- 
ing of whose name is still supposed to bring absolu- 
tion from all sin, had not the manliness to stand by 
his loyal wife in the hour of her greatest need. 

She had gladly left a court of luxury to follow in 
his exile the man she worshiped. For his sake she 
had bravely met the terrors of the jungle, and but 
for her loyal love to him she would not have been ex- 
posed to the terrible hand of the demon king. But 
his danger was passed ; prosperity now flowed upon 
Rama in one broad golden river, and his vanity craved 
even a stronger adulation from his subjects. 

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He was the model of all the Hindu divinities, the 
noblest and bravest of all the gods of their mythol- 
ogy ; but he turned treacherously against the brave 
woman whose life had been one long scene of devo- 
tion to him. She was soon to become a mother — 
soon to give him an heir to the throne; but without 
deigning to give her any explanation, he sent her 
away to face the dangers of the jungle, under the pre- 
tense that she was to visit the sages there. She was 
accompanied only by Lakshmana, who was ordered to 
explain the situation to her and then leave her alone 
in a thicket which was near the mountain of 6itra- 

Here came the banished wife and paused in terri- 
ble agony not far from the cot which she had made 
so happy for her exiled prince. Her faithful brother 
had wept bitterly when he told her of the cruel orders 
of her husband, and besought her to try to reach the 
hermitage of Valmiki. But she knew not which way 
to turn to find the humble home of the devotees. 
Overwhelmed with suffering she wandered over a sandy 
plain, on which the tropical sun blazed like a fiery 
furnace. Her tender feet were torn with thorns and 
burned to blisters, while ever and anon her frame quiv- 
ered with a new, strange agony that she had never 
known before. Physical suffering is hard enough to 
bear, but cannot be compared with the sufferings of a 
loyal heart which is being trampled to death by the 

1 There is also a legend to the effect that Rama sent his faithful 
brother into exile, and J. Talboys Wheeler remarks that "We might 
almost infer from the current of national tradition that Rama as he ad- 
vanced in years became jealous and peevish, like Henry the Eighth.*'— 
(Hist, of Ind., Vol. II, p. 406.) 

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object of its worship. But she had given him so much 
of tenderness, and Kama knew the faithful love of 
his wife so well, that he was not afraid to outrage 
her purest and most sacred feelings, assured that the 
wounded heart would gladly creep back to his, when- 
ever in his own royal pleasure he saw fit to treat her 
decently. The exiled wife still struggled on her un- 
known way, her throat parched with thirst and her 
delicate skin scorched by the blazing sun, until the 
birds in pity dipped their pinions in the waters of 
the Ganges and fanned her feverish face, that she 
might not faint with the heat. The royal tiger, 
ashamed of the cowardice and treachery of Rama, left 
his cool bed in the jungle and walked beside her to 
protect her from the hungry wolves in the wilderness. 
But at last she fell fainting by the way and was found 
in a swoon by Valmiki the sage, who lifting her ten- 
derly in his arms carried her to his hermitage, and 
gave her into the care of his noble wife. 


The very night that she was taken into the humble 
home of the devotees, Sita gave birth to two beautiful 
boys whom she named Lava and Kusa. But no word of 
inquiry was sent from Rama to learn the fate of his 
wife. Living in luxurious splendor himself, he did 
not ask whether Sita had found a place of refuge or 
had been devoured by the wild beasts of the jungle. 

The two sons of Sita were carefully educated by 
Valmiki. Before they were twenty years of age they 
had attained to physical and mental manhood. The 
devoted mother lived in her noble boys and poured 

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upon them the wealth of affection which had been bo 
cruelly despised by Rama. They in return almost wor- 
shiped their beautiful mother, doing everything in 
their power for her comfort and happiness. 

As the years passed by Rama began to feel uneasy, 
not on account of his cruelty to Sita, but because he 
had slain Ravana, who was the son of a Brahman. To 
slay a Brahman was a grievous sin to the Hindus, he 
therefore resolved to perform the horse sacrifice and 
thereby obtain absolution for his crime, in order that 
he might not forfeit any of the rewards in future 

The horse was procured and given his liberty with 
the usual ceremonies, and Ramans younger brother 
^atru-ghna followed him with an army. As he wan- 
dered away without control he at last came to Citra- 
kuta, where the sons of Sita were hunting. Lava had 
just sent his unfailing arrow through the heart of an 
antelope, when his eyes fell upon a magnificent horse 
which appeared to be entirely uncontrolled. He cap- 
tured the beautiful animal and was leading it away, 
when he was attacked by the whole army. Turning 
upon them, however, he called his brother, who was 
a little further in the jungle, and the two gallant boys 
soon put the whole army to flight. When Rama heard 
what had occurred, he angrily ordered Lakshmana to 
go out with another body of men and recover the 
horse. But his troops also were defeated by the won- 
derful prowess of Lava and Kusa, and he himself was 
left for dead upon the field. 

At last Rama went in person at the head of an 
army, determined to conquer an enemy who threatened 

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to become invincible. Having reached the place of the 
former defeat he went alone to meet the two young 
men, and ascertain if possible who they were. Soon he 
saw two splendid specimens of manhood coming toward 
him with a fearless step and an imperial bearing, which 
told him they were of royal birth. The youths bowed 
reverently before him, and Rama inquired of them 
whose sons they were. " Our mother^s name," an- 
swered Lava, ^^is Sita, but we do not know who our 
father is. We have been brought up and educated by 
the good sage Valmiki, who lives near us.'^ 

When Kama realized that his own sons stood before 
him, he was overcome with emotion and before he 
could speak Valmiki appeared upon the scene and 
begged of him to be reconciled to his wife. 

He then stated to Valmiki that he knew Sita to be 
the soul of purity and was rejoiced to find that his 
sons had become such noble men. ^^But," said 
he, ^^ it is necessary to prove the chastity of Sita," and 
turning to his assembled troops, which had been 
brought forward by his command, he complacently an- 
nounced to them that Sita would again demonstrate 
her innocence by undergoing the fiery ordeal, and 
ordered Valmiki to bring his wife into his presence. 


But the grandest and purest devotion that ever lived 
in the heart of woman may be murdered by persistent 
outrage. Rama had by his own conduct deliberately 
killed the great love which his faithful wife had borne 
for him so many years. For the first time in her life 
Sita refused to obey his call, declaring that she had 

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no wish to look upon his face again. But her old 
friend Valmiki, who had been a father to her in her 
time of need, urged her to lay aside her personal feel- 
ings in the matter, and for the sake of her children to 
forgive their father. Unable to resist the entreaties 
of Valmiki and his noble wife, she at last con- 
sented. Bathing herself in perfumed waters and wear- 
ing silken garments, she was brought to the place of 

She still wore the crown of eternal youth which had 
been given her in the forest, and the mother of these 
stalwart sons appeared before her husband in all the 
youth and beauty of the bride whom he had won so 
many years before. Exclamations of wonder and ad- 
miration passed from lip to lip, and Rama gazed as if 
spellbound upon this vision of loveliness, which en- 
tranced his senses as in bygone days. She heard again 
his voice, but her murdered heart could not leap again 
lor joy. She stood before him again with downcast 
eyes, which she would not raise toward her treacherous 
husband. But instead of invoking the god of fire, as 
before, she said, '* Oh, Earth, if I have never turned 
my thoughts toward any man but Rama; if my truth 
and purity are known to thee; I beseech of thee to 
open a passage for me and receive me into thy bosom, 
for I will never again behold the face of any living 
creature."^ On hearing these terrible words, a thrill 
of horror ran through the multitude, and they waited 
spellbound for the last scene in the great drama. The 
earth thus appealed to slowly heaved and opened, 
while the terror-stricken throng looked on in breathless 

1 See the Adhyatma version. 

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silence. Out of the newly formed abyss arose a splendid 
throne, adorned with gold and studded with gems ; it 
was set with pearls and rubies and supported by four 
of the sacred serpents. Then the beautiful goddess of 
the earth came from the chasm, wearing a robe of mol- 
ten silver, and taking Sita by the hand she said, ^^I 
come, Sita, in obedience to thy command. Thou art 
worthy of the purest affection of immortals. I have 
brought this throne for thy conveyance to the regions 
of happiness.^' Having thus spoken she led Sita to 
the throne, and took a seat beside her; the glad earth 
swallowed them up, and the gods sang the praises of 
Sita and threw masses of beautiful flowers upon the 
spot where she had disappeared. But the terror- 
stricken spectators, turning their eyes upon Rama, be- 
held him groveling upon the ground in agony. At 
length -the aged and heart-broken king returned to the 
palace, taking his sons with him. But the virtues and 
sorrows of Sita will be sung in the beautiful land of 
the Hindu by lips which are yet unborn, and the notes 
of the song will echo through the crags of the Himalayas 
and be borne to the sea upon the musical waves of the 

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A NOTHER Indian Epic of colossal proportions is 
■^-^ the Maha-bharata. It is the companion piece 
of the Ramayana, and naturally follows it in the 
arrangement of Sanskrit literature. Although some 
portions of it were doubtless written before the other 
poem, it was probably completed a hundred years later 
than the Ramayana. 

The Maha-bharata is the most gigantic poetical 
work known to literature. It consists of two hundred 
and twenty thousand lines, while the Iliad and Odyssey 
combined contain only about thirty thousand. It is 
divided into eighteen Parvans, or sections, nearly eveiy 
one of which would make a large volume. 

It is claimed in the introduction that the word 
Maha-bharata is "derived from its large size and great 
weight, because the poem is described as outweighing 
all the four Vedas and the mystical writings taken 

The word, however, really comes from maha, mean- 


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ing great, and bharata, relating to Bharata, and the 
title of the poem signifies ^^The Great War of Bha- 


Some historians claim that the legends of the Maha- 
bharata are but little better for historical purposes 
than the dreams of a madman, but it must be admit- 
ted that even the wildest fictions illustrate the ideas 
and the moral standards of the times in which they 
were produced. The literature of the Hindus is 
largely found in their two great epic poems, the 
Ramayana and Maha-bharata. 

These masses of traditioH and fable are the national 
treasuries from which their bards have borrowed the 
themes for their ballads, and their genealogists have 
taken the materials for their so-called histories. Hindu 
art is indebted to them for her subjects, and the 
Hindu drama constantly illustrates the character of 
the two poems. Much of the matter of the Puranas 
has been - taken from these storehouses' of literature, 
and the later Brahmans have also drawn from them 
the subjects, and largely the matter, of their religious 
discourses. To reject these stories, then, as unfit to 
serve in any way the purpose of the historian would 
be to lose valuable hints concerning the inner life of 
this ancient people. It is, indeed, questionable how far 
they represent the real facts of the period to which 
they refer, but they certainly must reflect to a consid- 
erable degree the feeling and the judgment of the age 
in which they were composed. 

The mass of Oriental literature found in these two 

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great Epics comprises all that their own writers have 
left us of the social, political, and religious history of 
India. A familiarity with these two poems, therefore, 
is indispensable to a knowledge of the Hindus, as 
their influence upon the people is stronger and more 
universal than Europeans and Americans can fully ap- 
preciate. They are held sacred as the repositories of 
their faith, and are cherished as the treasures of the 

We might have expected that the traditions of the 
royal house of Bharata would throw some direct light 
upon the Aryan conquest of India ; but the attention 
of the earlier warrior bards seems to have been concen- 
trated upon the fratricidal contest between the two 
rival branches of the royal family. Legends have 
indeed been preserved concerning the early rajas, but 
the Kshatriya bards declared that the rajas of Bharata 
were descended from the moon, and that one of them 
had conquered Indra, the ruler of the gods. The 
Brahmanical compilers of these stories promptly admit- 
ted both statements, but in order to establish the 
superiority of their own caste they asserted that the 
moon itself was begotten by a Brahmanical sage, and 
that the raja conquered Indra with the assistance of 
the Brahmans. 

It is with such material as this that the historian 
has to deal. Nevertheless, there is an apparently 
authentic tradition to the effect that the Kauravas, 
who were the sons of the blind raja Dhrita-rashtra, 
engaged in a long and bitter rivalry with their cous- 
ins, the Pan^avas, who were the sons of raja PangLu, 
and that it was this rivalry between the two branches 

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of the royal house that led to the great war from 
which the Maha-bharata derives its name. The in- 
struction which was given to these princes throws con- 
siderable light upon the so-called education of that 
age, and the whole story illustrates the relations that 
existed between Aryan settlers and the original inhabi- 

This Epic contains vivid pictures of the social posi- 
tion of the Hindu woman before the Mohammedan 
conquest. The habit of seclusion, and the acknowl- 
edged inferiority of their wives are to a certain extent 
natural to the Eastern nations, and prevailed even in 
the earliest times. Still, there are passages in both 
Epics which clearly establish the fact that the women 
of India were under less social restraint in former days 
than at present and enjoyed considerable liberty, of 
which they have been deprived by the influence of 

These strange traditions are not to be accepted, of 
course, as literal narratives, but they are to be studied 
carefully, that we may catch the historic value of 
their pictures, the meaning of their allusions, the sig- 
nificance of their surroundings, and, above all, the 
spirit of the individual and national life which they 


is in the main a spiritualistic pantheism, in which 
one spirit is represented as peopling heaven under 
various personifications and becoming incarnate upon 
the earth in a multitude of diiferent characters. But 
the work of compilation covered so long a period that 

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the poem exhibits almost all of the multitudinous 
forms of Hinduism ; at times its heroes are models 
of strictness in their adherence to the rules of priest- 
craft, and again they display the greatest laxity of 
conduct and a marked opposition to the ritual of the 
ecclesiastics. But upon one point at least it is always 
a unit, and that is the assertion of its own sanctity. 
Vyasa, the supposed author or compiler, says, in his 
exordium to the work: ^'The reading of the Bharata 
is sacred ; all the sins of him who reads but a portion 
of it shall be obliterated without exception. . . He 
who in faith shall persevere in listening to the recital 
of this sacred book shall obtain a long life, great 
renown, and the way to heaven. '* To this day it is 
devoutly believed that only to listen to portions of 
either poem is a deed of such merit that it will insure 
prosperity in this world and happiness hereafter ; that 
it will bring wealth to the poverty-stricken and chil- 
dren to the baiTen woman. Patriotism, as well as 
religion, has shed a halo of sanctity over ihese great 
Epics, which are regarded by the Hindu as a national 
possession and cherished by him as the peculiar heritage 
of his race. 


The Maha-bharata, unlike the Ramayana, is not a 
single poem ; it is an immense collection of Hindu 
mythology, legend and philosophy. The main narra- 
tive is merely a thread connecting a vast number of 
traditions and myths, the arrangement of which resem- 
bles somewhat that of the Arabian Nights. 

In consequence of its miscellaneous origin and the 

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proti'acted period of its composition, the style of the 
work is exceedingly varied ; but the language is usu- 
ally simple and natural in its construction. The progress 
of the story is checked by no limitations either of time, 
space, or numbers ; it is full of fabulous chronological 
and historical details, and its assertions are generally 
of the wildest character. Space is measured by mill- 
ions of miles, and time by millions of years. In the 
descriptions of battle scenes, horses, men, and elephants 
are all said to number millions. Yet the fictions of 
the two Epics are still essential to the religious creed 
of the Hindus. It is true that the educated classes 
look upon the more extravagant myths as allegorical, 
but the great mass of the people receive them as liter- 
ally true. 

The speeches which have been preserved in the 
Maha-bharata are not characterized by the fiery elo- 
quence which breathes from the lips of Homer^s heroes ; 
on the contrary, they often seem childish and puerile. 
Still, there are occasional scenes which are character- 
ized by vigorous and dignified thought. Homer's 
heroes, however assisted by their tutelar deities, are 
always men ; but in the Indian Epics every great man 
is a god, and his foes are demons. 

The deification of their heroes is supposed to be 
largely the work of Brahmanical compilers, who sought 
by this means to bring into their own ranks the most 
distinguished men of the Kshatriya class. The regard 
of the Indian soldiery for ^their favorite commanders 
still finds expression in an act of worship. The gal- 
lant John Nicholson was revered by his men as a demi- 
god, and was even compelled to punish them for their 

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superstitious devotion. Therefore, it is natural that in 
the Indian Epics the boundaries between the divine 
and the human should be quite indefinite. Deities or 
semi-divine persons are constantly appearing upon the 
scene, while gods, animals, and men are liable at any 
time to change places. 

In the Hiad and Odyssey the supernatural is per- 
haps almost as prevalent, but it is introduced and 
maintained with more consistency, and hence adds to 
the sublimity of those poems, instead of detracting 
from them, as is frequently the case with the Hindu 
Epics. But in portraying scenes of domestic love and 
loyalty, the Sanskrit writings cannot be surpassed, even 
by the eloquence of the Grecian classics. Human 
nature is world-wide, and the warm heart of the Hindu 
pours out his love in the luxuriant poetry of his own 
tropical clime. We also find the highest portrayal of 
woman's truth and purity, even though she is often 
held in a position entirely unworthy of her great devo- 
tion. The sacredness of love and the holiness of do- 
mestic ties are as beautiful in the lines of the Hindu 
poet as in the grander numbers of Homer. 


This work appears to have been the slow growth of 
three or four centuries. It is supposed that the ear- 
liest part of it was written before the Eaniayana; for 
it describes a conflict between rude colonists at a time 
which is nearer to the earliest settlements of the 
Aryans, while the Eamayana represents a more ad- 
vanced civilization. But the principal narrative of the 
Maha-bharata is so completely covered by later addi- 

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tions that it is hardly possible to analyze critically the 
chronology of the composition. When the story of 
the great war had become a national tradition, subse- 
quent compilers did not hesitate to insert in the text 
the legends of the later wars waged by the Aryans 
against the aborigines during their progress toward the 

There are evidences of at least three compilations 
or collections of these scattered legends and songs of 
India. They were gathered and arranged by different 
authors at various times during a period covering three 
or four hundred years. Sir Monier Williams assigns 
the first orderly completion of the Maha-bharata in its 
Brahmanized form to about the second century B. C* 
But he points out the fact that while many of the 
legends are Vedic and of great antiquity, many others 
are comparatively modern and have probably found a 
place in this collection during the Christian era. The 
primitive elements of the text seem to belong to early 
times ; but its comparatively modern form and other 
indications have induced scholars to assign portions of 
the work to the early centuries of our own era. 

Weber and Lassen agree in their interpretation of 
a passage in the Maha-bharata to the effect that early 
in the Christian era three Brahmans visited a com- 
munity of Christians, and that on their return *^they 
were enabled to introduce improvements into the 
hereditary creed, and more especially to make the wor- 
ship of Krishna Vasudeva the most prominent feature 
of their system.^'* If these Orientalists are correct in 

1 See Ind. Wis., p. 319. 

a Hardwick, Vol. I, p. 182. See also Notes from Weber and Lassen. 

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their rendering of this passage, it proves beyond a 
doubt that some parts of the Maha-bharata were writ- 
ten during the Christian era. Prof. Weber, also, who 
is a man of critical judgment and profound scholarship, 
says, "The final redaction of the work in its present 
shape .... must have been some centuries after 
the commencement of our era."^ 

We may also cite the testimony of the distinguished 
native scholar, Kashinath Trimbak Telang, M. A., who 
states that ** we have reason to believe some parts . . . 
of the Maha-bharata to have been in existence prior to 
the sixth century after Christ, and that some parts of 
the thirty-seventh chapter were probably extant in the 
time of Patawjali ; viz., the second century before 

J. Talboys Wheeler claims that a part of the story 
of Duryodhana was ** borrowed from the Koran of the 
Mussulmans.^' If he is correct in this supposition, it 
brings some portions of the Maha-bharata down into 
the Christian era at least as far as the seventh cen- 


We have not as yet a complete translation of this 
great treasury of Hindu literature, but many portions 
of it have been given to the English-speaking world 
and some of them have been repeatedly translated. 
The task of analyzing and fairly representing the work 
as a whole by European scholars has been greatly facili- 
tated by the discovery of a manuscript translation of 

1 Hist. Ind. Lit. p. 188. 

2 See Bhagavad-gita, p. 140. The time of Patanjali is still a debated ques- 
tion, but Prof. Max Miiller places him after the third century of the Chris- 
tian era. 

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the more important portions, which was probably made 
by the late Prof. H. H. Wilson. This valuable docu- 
ment was placed some years ago in the Calcutta library, 
under the head of Bhagavad-gita, but it was at last 
found to contain the bulk of the Maha-bharata. The 
discovery was made by J. Talboys Wheeler, who pre- 
pared a critical and valuable digest of the whole paper, 
consisting of nine folio volumes. 

Sir Monier Williams, Dr. Muir, Eev. H. Milman, 
and others have also made careful ti*anslations of some 
portions of it, and other parts have been rendered into 
English by a prominent native scholar. AVe have, 
besides, more than one careful analysis of the whole 

In the two following chapters we shall give as briefly 
as possible the principal story of the Maha-bharata. A 
full translation of the whole of this colossal poem 
would fill about seventeen volumes, but we shall present 
merely an outline of what purports to be the historical 

The events here recorded are represented as taking 
place in an age previous to the one in which the poet 
wrote, the heroes of the great war having lived and 
died perhaps a thousand years before their deeds were 
placed upon record. These events, which took place (if 
at all) in the early Vedic period of Indian history, 
have been very much colored and changed by the 
opinions of the succeeding age. The religion which 
flourished at the time of the great war had to a great 
extent passed away, and a new one had been estab- 
lished before the poems were composed. Hence, the 
heroes of the Maha-bharata are more or less deified by 

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the fancy of the Brahmanical compilers, and the stu* 
dent of modern times can only guess at the amount 
of historical fact which may have been transmitted 
orally from one generation to another during this long 

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TN early times the royal house of Bharata was rep- 
-*^ resented by two rajas, who were brothers. Raja 
Paniju was a mighty warrior, the hero of many con- 
quests, and his kingdom, the raj of Hastinapur, was as 
great and glorious as it had been under the reign of 
raja Bharata. He was the father of five princely sons, 
who were called the Pan^avas. The name of the eldest 
was Yudhi-shthira. BhTma, the second son, was dis- 
tinguished for his voracious appetite, it being the fam- 
ily custom to serve as much food to him as was eaten 
by his four brothers. The next was gallant Arjuna, 
tall, handsome, and kingly in his bearing. The two 
youngest sons were Nakula and Sahadeva. The royal 
brother of raja Pan^u was the blind king Dhrita- 
rashtra, who was the father of a family called Kaura- 
vas, after their ancestor Kura.* The eldest son was 
named Duryodhana, but the bravest was Duhfiasana. 

1 It Is said that Gandhari, the wife of the blind raja, once hospitably en- 
tertained a great sage, whereupon he offered her any boon that she might 

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Raja Panglu died while yet comparatively young, 
and the blind king took the surviving widow of his 
brother and her five sons into his own palace. He 
tried to nurture in the youug princes a genuine re- 
spect and affection for each other, but a spirit of 
rivalry and jealousy seemed to exist between them from 
the first hour in which they shared the same home. 
A famous preceptor named Drona was engaged to edu- 
cate them in the use of arms, but he was so indis- 
creet as to exhibit a preference for the Panglavas, es- 
pecially in the case of Arjuna, who was evidently his 
favorite. This manifest preference of the preceptor 
added fuel to the flames of jealousy, and Duryodhana, 
the eldest of the Kauravas, was especially vindictive 
against Arjuna, who under the instruction of Drona 
became the most famous archer of his time. 


After years of careful instruction and faithful prac- 
tice, the royal pupils were all experts in the depart- 
ments they had chosen. Bhlma, the young man of 
the voracious appetite, applied his herculean strength 
to the dexterous use of the club, Nakula was master 
of the art of taming and mau aging horses, and the 
others had been taught to handle skilfully the sword 
and spear. 

Drona then approached his royal patron and said to 
him, "Your own sons and the sons of your brother 
Pan^u are now expert in the use of weapons, and they 

choose, and she requested that she might become the mother of a hundred 
sons. Accordingly she gave birth to a lump of flesh, which the sage divided 
into a hundred and one small pieces, placing each piece in a jar, where 
they ultimately became children. 

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are prepared to meet any foe upon the battle-field/^ 
The Maha-raja replied, *^Let a place be prepared on 
the great plain outside the city where your pupils may 
engage in a mock combat and display their skill before 
all the chiefs and the people of the raj/^ So Drona 
ordered that preparations be made for a great tourna- 
ment without the city, and had the vast space assigned 
for the sport protected by barriers. On one side of 
the ground galleries were built for the Maha-raja and 
his chieftains; on the other were placed galleries for 
all the ladies of the royal house of Hastinapur. 

The morning of the tournament dawned without 
clouds. The great trees in the amphitheater stood 
like tall columns supporting the heavy roof of foliage 
above them, and were decorated with bright flags. 
Long garlands of rich tropical flowers were festooned 
around the galleries, loading the air with their fragrant 
breath. At an early hour the populace from all parts 
of the raj filled the great plain, pressing as closely as 
possible around the barriers of the amphitheater. 
Soon the blind raja was led in and escorted to his 
place on a throne which had been erected for him and 
covered with the fairest blossoms of the land. At his 
right hand sat his faithful uncle, Bhishma, who man- 
aged the affairs of the raj for the king, who had been 
his care from childhood. On the left of the Maha-raja 
sat Vidura, his half-brother, who was appointed to ex- 
plain to him the scenes that took place on the plain 
below them. The ladies of the royal house occupied 
the other galleries, which were bright with the sheen 
of silken garments and the radiant light of jewels 
flashing amidst the flowers. But the most highly 

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favored of the ladies were Gandhari, the mother of the 
Kauravas, and Kunti, the mother of the Pan^avas. 
Their womanly hearts were throbbing with joyous an- 
ticipation over the gallant deeds of their princely sons, 
and they waited anxiously for the opening of the tour- 

When all was ready Drona, the preceptor, entered 
the arena clad in garments of the purest white and 
offered the incense of praise to their gods. Then came 
the princes lightly girded for exercise and bearing 
their bows in their hands. Bowing low at the feet of 
their preceptor they awaited his commands. As they 
stood there in the glory of their young manhood, a 
loud cheer went up from the multitude, for their 
training had developed every muscle, and their fine 
physiques and princely bearing won the hearts of the 
people. Their skill was tested in shooting arrows — first 
on foot ; then galloping around the amphitheater on 
horses they still struck the mark with wondrous pre- 
cision. Afterward they exhibited their archery from 
chariots or the backs of elephants, always winning loud 
huzzas from the spectators. Then there were brilliant 
mock fights with the sword and buckler. 

Drona at last called upon his favorite pupil, Arjuna, 
and the young chieftain stepped forth as stalwart and 
handsome as one of the gods. He entered the arena 
clad in golden mail and gracefully bearing in his hand 
a bow inlaid with pearl. The multitude greeted him 
as another Indra, and the glad heart of his mother 
who sat in the gallery above him throbbed with exul- 
tation. There had been set up the figure of an iron 
boar, and Arjuna sent five arrows into its mouth at 

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one bending of the bow. Then mounting his chariot 
he was driven swiftly along, while he shot his arrows 
with such marvelous rapidity and dexterity as to be- 
wilder the cheering spectators. In his sword-play the 
weapon flashed so rapidly in the sun that men fancied 
the lightnings were playing around him. Then arm- 
ing himself with a noose, he threw it so dexter- 
ously that every horse or deer at which it was hurled 
was brought down. At last, having finished his exer- 
cises, he gracefully saluted his preceptor, who em- 
braced him amidst the wild applause of the multitude. 
The Pandavas, of course, had been exulting in the 
triumph of their brother; but Duryodhana was wild 
with jealous rage, and when they came to the exercise 
of clubs the fighting became real, and the scene was 
terrible. These young athletes gave a practical exhi- 
bition of their envy and jealousy, and the blood flowed 
freely on both sides. At one end of -the great arena 
Duryodhana engaged with Bhima, and the contestants 
rushed furiously upon each other. 

^^With ponderous mace they waged the daring fight. 
As for a tender mate two rival elephants 
Engage with frantic fury, so the youths 
Encountered, and amidst the rapid sphere 
Of fire their whirling weapons clashing wove 
Their persons vanished from the anxious eye. 
Still more and more incensed their combat grew. 
And life hung doubtful on the desperate conflict; 
With awe the crowd beheld the fierce encounter 
And amidst hope and fear suspended tossed. 
Like ocean shaken by conflicting winds. ^^ 

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The glad cheers of the multitude gave way to cries 
of horror, but some of the spectators caught the spirit 
of the fray and ran wildly to and fro, shouting each for 
his favorite in the fight. Drona sent his son to separate 
the combatants, but no one heeded him ; then Drona 
hastened to them, but his words had no influence, and 
he was compelled to lay hands upon them and separate 
them by main force, and send them to their home. 
The multitude went away in sorrow; the flowers 
drooped and wilted in sadness, and the loving mothers 
grieved in solitude, for blood had been shed in anger. 
This tournament which had opened so joyously was the 
beginning of those long feuds and terrible contests 
which stained for many years the escutcheon of the 
noble house of Bharata. 

The blind king, thinking to dispel the ill will be- 
tween the two factions, at last divided his raj and gave 
to the Pan^avas the most distant portion of it. So 
the Pancjavas took leave of their beloved preceptor, 
Drona, and bidding farewell to their kindred took their 
mother with them and went into a strange land. On 
the banks of the beautiful river, Jumna, they built a 
fort and collected their subjects together under the 
rule of the eldest brother Yudhi-shthira. The new 
raja soon won the hearts of his people by his wisdom 
and kindness. He promptly punished evil-doers, and 
those who had been wronged went to him for aid, as 
children go to a loving father. His fame as a wise 
and beneficent ruler extended throughout India, and he 
built a fair city called Indra-prastha. But before it 
was finished the brothers attended the Svayamvara of 
the princess Draupadi, which proved to be one of the 
most important events of their lives. 

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One of the institutions of India in early times 
was the Svayamvara ; it resembled the tournament 
of the Middle Ages, wherein the victor was crowned 
with the laurel wreath by the Queen of Love and 
Beauty. But in the Hindu contests the prize was a, 
lovely bride — usually the daughter of a royal house. 

The raja Draupada, who reigned over the kingdom 
of PaTicala, was blessed with a beautiful daughter. 
The fair princess was as radiant and graceful as if she 
were descended from the gods. Her dark eyes beamed 
with intelligence, and her cheeks glowed with the rich 
crimson blood of her race. The fame of her love- 
liness spread even beyond that of her father^s name, 
and the rajas of the neighboring kingdom came to ask 
her hand in marriage. But her proud father deter- 
mined that no ordinary ruler should win his beautiful 
solitaire ; therefore, when she came to a marriageable 
age he announced a great Svayamvara, in which the 
neighboring rajas were invited to take part, and an- 
nounced that the prince who performed the greatest 
feats of archery should be rewarded with the lady's 
hand. It was said that all the rajas from the four 
quarters of the earth would be present to compete for 
the hand of the lovely princess Draupadi. The five 
Pan^avas had been greatly interested in the accounts 
they had heard of the lady's beauty and decided to 
join the illustrious throng of competitors ; but they dis- 
guised themselves as Brahmans and appeared upon the 
brilliant scene in the garments of the priesthood. 
When they reached the city they found a vast number 

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of rajas encamped there with their hosts of troops and 
attendants, and a multitude of horses and elephants. 
There were also Brahmans, Kshatriyas, traveling mer- 
chants, and a great throng of spectators. 

Outside of the city a great plain had been enclosed 
with barriers and supplied with glittering pavilions for 
the benefit of the most distinguished guests, and the 
long galleries were draped with bright flags and decor- 
ated with masses of flowers. At one end of the amphi- 
theater stood a tall pole which upheld a golden fish, 
and just below the fish a large wheel was rapidly re- 
volving, so that any arrow striking the fish must first 
pass through the spaces in the revolving wheel. 

The rule of the Svayamvara was that whoever dis- 
charged an arrow through the wheel at the first shot 
and struck the eye of the golden fish should be the 
husband of the princess Draupadi. 

The assembled throng spent many days in sporting 
and feasting before the time arrived for the contest, 
but at last the memorable morning dawned upon the 
fair city of Kampilya. 

At the rising of the sun the whole city was awak- 
ened by the joyous strains of martial music. At an 
early hour the great galleries and vast pavilions of the 
amphitheater were thronged with distinguished guests, 
while the multitude gathered in dense masses around 
the inclosure. 

^^ Without the barriers pressed the countless crowd. 
Skirting the distance multitudes beheld 
The field from golden lattices, or thronged 
The high housetops, whose towering summits touched 

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The clouds, and like a mountain of the gods 
The sparkling peaks streamed radiant through the air. 
A thousand trumpets brayed, and slow the breeze 
With incense laden wafted perfume round/* 

The well-armed troops of the raja maintained per- 
fect order, and the people were entertained with the 
preliminary exercises of dancers, jugglers, actors, ath- 
letes, wrestlers, and swordsmen. 

Delicate refreshments were served to the guests and 
cup-bearers sprinkled the throng with the choicest 
perfumes of the East. At last the beautiful princess 
was led to the floral throne in the arena, the soft sheen 
of her rich garments mingling with the blaze of her 
jewels. But richer than her costly robes was the crim- 
son of her lips, and brighter than her gems was the 
light of her beautiful eyes, as she held in one graceful 
hand the garland of flowers destined for the victor. 
Low murmurs of admiration rang through the vast 
throng, and choirs of Brahmans chanted her praises in 
softly modulated notes. In the deep silence that fol- 
lowed the strains of the song the brother of the 
princess announced that he who sent the arrow through 
the flying wheel and struck the eye of the golden fish 
should have the princess for his wife, and he invited 
the rajas and great chieftains who were present to 
come forward and try their skill. 

** Quick from their gorgeous thrones the kings uprose. 
Descending to the conflict, and around 
The lovely DraupadT contending pressed. 
Like the bright gods round Siva^s mountain bride. 
Love lodged his viewless arrows in their hearts. 

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And jealous hatred swelled their haughty minds. 

Each on his rivals bent a lowering glance. 

And, friends till now, they met as deadliest foes.'* 

The rajas looked in dismay at the golden fish beyond 
the flying wheel and then at the huge bow and heavy 
arrow that was to be used. The more prudent suitors 
retired from the field, but at last one raja who was 
braver than the others stepped forward and lifting the 
bow tried to bend it, but faileyd in the attempt and 
retired at last amidst the derisive laughter of the spec- 
tators. One after another the great rajas then made 
the attempt, but no one of them succeeded. 

** No hand the stubborn bow could bend — they strained 
Fruitless each nerve, and many on the field 
Recumbent fell, whilst laughter pealed around. 
In vain they cast aside their royal robes 
And diamond chains and glittering diadems. 
And with unfettered arm and ample chest 
Put forth their fullest strength — the bow defied 
Each chief, nor left the hope he might succeed.*' 

At last a young man of princely bearing, wearing 
the garb of a priest, came forward. As he lifted the 
great bow the eyes of the princess brightened, for she 
had seen his handsome face and admired his godlike 

A cry of astonishment rang through the assembly 
upon seeing a Brahman enter the competitive list at 
a Svayamvara. The Brahmans feared that such an 
act would offend the rajas so that they would not be- 
stow the customary gifts, and they pleaded with him 

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to withdraw from the contest. But the new competi- 
tor was Arjuna, the hero of the Panrlavas, and heed- 
less alike of praise or blame 

^^He grasped the ponderous weapon in his hand 
And with one vigorous effort braced the string. 
Quickly the shafts were aimed; swiftly they flew; 
The mark fell pierced ; a shout of victory 
Rang through the vast arena; from the sky 
Garlands of flowers crowned the hero's head. 
Ten thousand fluttering scarfs waved in the air. 
And drum and trumpet sounded forth his triumph."^ 

The beautiful princess came gladly forward and 
crowned the handsome victor with the garland she 
held in her hand, and permitted him to lead her away, 
according to the rules of the Svayamvara. The cheer- 
ing of the multitude, however, was quickly drowned 
by the voices of discontent that came from the dis- 
comfited rajas. ^^Is raja Draupada to invite us to a 
Svayamvara and then give his daughter to a Brah- 
man?" they cried. ^* Down with the guilty race of 
Draupada ! " and they gathered angrily around the 
king with naked swords and threatened to burn the 
princess alive unless she chose a Kshatriya for a hus- 
band. But at the first onset upon the raja Draupada 
they were met by the Pandavas. The herculean Bhima 
tore up a tree, using it effectively as a club. Arjuna, 
too, rushed upon his foes like a wild elephant, and 

1 Williams' trans. This description reminds one of the scene In the 
Odyssey where Ulysses 

"Then notched the shaft, released, and gave it wing ; 
The whizzing arrow vanished from the string, 
Sung on direct, and threaded every ring." (Book 21.) 

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the royal suitors, vanquished in archery and conquered 
in figbt, were glad to leave the fair princess in the 
hands of the gallant youth who had fairly won her 
and retire from the field in sullen anger. 


At evening the Pan<Javas arrived at their home, ac- 
companied by Arjuna's beautiful prize, and one of the 
sons hastened to his mother's apartment exclaiming, 
^* We have made a fine acquisition to-day.^' The moth- 
er supposing they had brought home some trophies of 
war answered, ^* Share it equally among yourselves, my 
sons.^^ Then Yudhi-shthira exclaimed, "Oh, mother, 
what have you said ? Arjuna has to-day won a beau- 
tiful damsel at the Svaya/wvara." Arjuna led the fair 
princess into his mother's presence, but the whole 
family were in grievous trouble ; for the words of a 
parent thus spoken could not be set aside without 
bringing sad misfortune. The five brothers, it is true, 
were all in love with Draupadi, but Yudhi-shthira 
said to Arjuna, " You have fairly won her, and we will 
marry her to you according to law.'' Arjuna mod- 
estly replied, "You are the eldest brother; to you be- 
long the trophies of war, and this damsel is worthy 
of being espoused by you.'' 

Then the eldest brother said, "It is the raja Drau- 
pada who has the disposal of his own daughter, and 
we will leave the matter to him." 


In the meantime, the raja had been greatly troubled 
with the thought that his daughter had been won by 

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a Brahman; but learning that the young men were 
the sons of the raja Pan<Ju, he was much pleased 
with the thought of being allied to the royal house of 
Bharata. He therefore invited the Pan<Java princes to 
a great feast, and after the festivities were over he 
asked Yudhi-shthira if it was his will as the elder 
brother of the family that the princess should be mar- 
ried to Arjuna, who had fairly won her at the Svay- 
amvara. The young prince answered that he thought 
it would be proper to ask the counsel of the great sage 

The sage being summoned to the council had the 
matter presented to him, whereupon he gravely re- 
plied, "Many years ago there lived a maiden lady who 
besought the gods to send her a good husband, and at 
last the god §iva appeared to her and announced that 
she could have no husband in that life, but in her 
next transmigration she should have five husbands. 
But the lady replied, '1 do not want five husbands, 
I want only one/ 'I cannot help it,^ answered Siva, 
^you have petitioned me five different times for a 
good husband, and each time your petition has been 
answered by a decree that you should have one hus- 
band, therefore in the next life you shall have five good 
husbands/ Time passed on and the maiden lady died, 
but only to be born again as Draupadi, the beautiful 
Hindu princess, who is the only daughter of the raja 
Draupada. The gods have therefore decreed that the 
princess shall wed all of the brothers/' 

Yudhi-shthira replied, *' What Vyasa has said is just, 
and, moreover, we hold our mother's word to be right 
and true when she commanded that we should all 

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share the prize which Arjuna had won." The raja 
then gave his consent to this strange union. The 
princess was therefore arrayed in the richest fabrics of 
the Eastern looms, and adorned with many jewels. 
She was first married to the eldest brother and then to 
each of the others in the order of their ages.^ The 
ceremony was celebrated with all the pomp and mag- 
nificence pertaining to royalty, and both families were 
greatly strengthened by the alliance. 


A long mythical account is given of the feuds and 
adventures of the following years. Yudhi-shthira was 
invited to visit the Kauravas, and while there played 
dice with an accomplished gambler and lost all of his 
wealth, his kingdom, his brothers, his wife, and finally 
his own liberty. Draupadi was finally restored to them, 
but by the terms of the game they were all banished 
to the jungle for a series of years. Their exploits and 
adventures are interminable, even the stories told by 
them during their exile being given ; a part of the 
Ramayana is recited ; the story of the deluge as found 
in the Satapatha-brahmana (see page 81) is also re- 
peated and many other digressions are made. 

After the years of their banishment had expired, a 
council of princes was called by Virata and a consul- 

1 Polyandry is still practiced among the hill-tribes in the Himalaya range 
near Simla; it also prevails among the Todas and the Nayar tribes in Mala- 
bar, and among some of the tribes of the Pacific islands, Africa and Aus- 
tralia.* Caesar charges the ancient Britons with the same practice. (See De 
Bello Gallico, V, 14.) 

The custom of polyandry must also have existed in very early times 
among the Vedic Aryans, there being a hymn in the Rig-veda which repre- 
sents a maiden as the prize of a chariot race, which was won by the two 
Asvins. (See R.-v., Mand. I, Hymn 119, Verse 5.) 

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tation was held as to what course the Pan^avas ought 
to pursue. Having honorably complied with their 
agreement, they were entitled to their portion of the raj, 
which had been held during their exile by the Kaura- 
vas, but Duryodhana, who had become the virtual 
master of his blind and aged father, refused to give 
it up. 

To this council Krishna was invited ;^ also their 
father-in-law, the raja Draupada, and indeed all the 
allies of the Pan^avas. The courtly company was 
gathered in the magnificent council hall of raja 
Virata, whose daughter had just been wedded to the 
son of Arjuna. The great hall was transformed into 
a floral bower, and the rich perfume of tropical blos- 
soms filled the gorgeous room. 

When all the chieftains were seated, the situation 
was freely discussed, and it was decided to send the 
family priest of raja Draupada to Hastinapur as a 
messenger of peace, demanding, however, that the 
Kauravas make a fair treaty and restore to the Pan- 
^avas their own territory. Having little faith in the 
success of their ambassador, the Pandavas and their 
allies proposed to make war in case of a refusal. 

But even before the priest had started, Duryodhana 
had determined to go to war rather than relinquish 
his ill-gotten territory. With this purpose in view 
he visited Krishna, ^'the rude and amorous warrior of 
the Yadava tribe," in order to gain his assistance. 
Arriving at his residence, he was told that Krishna 

1 J. Talboys Wheeler says, " The great mass of details which associate 
him (Krishwa) with the Pandavas bears every trace of being a series of 
mythical interpolations of the Brahman ical compilers, who sought to deify 
the hero." (Hist, of Ind., Vol. I, p. 246.) 

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was asleep, but the haughty raja of the provinces did 
not stahd upon courtesy ; entering Krishna^s sleeping 
room he took a seat at the head of his bed to await his 
awakening. Before the chief of the tribe awoke, 
however, Arjuna entered the room with the same ob- 
ject in view, modestly taking his seat at the foot of 
the bed. On awakening, therefore, the eyes of Krish- 
na rested first on Arjuna. But Duryodhana pressed 
his own claim as being paramount, on the ground 
that it was he who first entered the room. At last 
Krishna said to them, *^ I will put myself alone into 
one scale and all the warriors of my army into the 
other, and you can choose between the two; but if 
you choose me, remember I shall not fight, though I 
will give counsel." Arjuna at once decided to take 
Krishna alone, and Duryodhana was pleased to receive 
all the warriors of Krishna^s army, though the chief 
himself was on the side of the foe.^ Duryodhana re- 
turned to Hastinapur in time to receive the Brahman 
envoy from raja Draupada. 

The blind Maha-raja called a council to listen to 
the message, and when the chieftains were gathered 
together the Brahman spoke as follows : ^' An envoy 
is the tongue of the party by whom he is sent, and 
if he fails in the discharge of his trust, he is guilty of 
an act of treachery. Have I, therefore, your permis- 
sion to repeat the message sent by the Pan^avas ? '^ 
The assembled chieftains answered with one accord, 

1 Wheeler points out the impossibility of any such interview taking place, 
Hastinapur being seven hundred miles in a direct line from Dvaraka, and 
shows the mythical character of the interpolation, which was evidently in- 
serted to promote " the worship of Krishna as a deity." (Hist, of Ind., Vol. I, 
pp. 246-348.) 

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"Speak plainly the words of the Pan^avas, without 
extenuation and without aggravation/' Then said the 
Brahman, "The Pan^avas send their salutations and 
speak thus ; ^ Eaja Dhrita-rashtra and raja Pan^u were 
brothers, as all men know. Why then should the sons 
of Dhrita-rashtra inherit the whole raj, while the sons 
of Pan(Ju are shut out ? You, Duryodhana, from the 
time of your childhood up to this day have taken 
every opportunity to injure us. You caused false dice 
to be made and then invited us to a gambling match ; 
by foul play you dispossessed us of all we had and 
compelled us to wander like vagabonds for twelve years. 
We have fulfilled the conditions, and if you now re- 
store to us our rightful share of the raj, we are ready 
to forget the wrongs we have endured; but if you re- 
ject our rightful claims, the blood of all the slain will 
be upon your head, and rest assured that Arjuna alone 
will devour your armies as a fowl devours grain. ' " 

Bhishma replied in effect : "All you have said may 
be just and reasonable, but in boasting of the valor of 
Arjuna you have said too much. He may indeed be 
worthy of all your praises, but I warn you not to repeat 
them in our presence.*' 

The fiery Karna then bounded to his feet and re- 
buked the aged Bhishma for admitting that there was 
anything reasonable in the demands of the Panijavas, 
and declared that not a foot of land would be yielded 
up. There were animated discussions of both sides of 
the question, and a number of envoys were sent to and 
fro between the contending parties. But Duryodhana 
remained obdurate, and disdaining the counsel of his 
aged father furiously demanded war, and at the 

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final council closed a defiant speech with the words : 
'^What, then, are all the beggarly Pan^avas that you 
should think to frighten me with them ? Never will 
I stoop and humble myself to them, say what you 


Duryodhana called another council of war immedi- 
ately after the departure of the last envoy of the Pan- 
(Javas, and required the members of his council to 
make a solemn covenant with him that they would 
never yield to the foe, but would fight as long as life 
lasted. He then summoned his whole army and 
marched to the plain of Kuru-ksheti*a/ where he fired 
their hearts with vindictive speeches, and drew up his 
battle line with barbaric pomp and magnificence. He 
stationed his army behind a beautiful lake in the cen- 
ter of the plain, and dug a deep trench on the flank 
of his troops, fortifying it with towers, upon which he 
placed great jars filled with poisonous serpents and 
scorpions, and reservoirs of burning sand and boiling 
oil. The venerable Bhishma was enthroned with elab- 
orate ceremonies as the generalissimo of all his armies, 
and was brought into the field wearing the robes of 
royalty, with the sacred canopy held over his head. 

The Pan^avas also marshalled their forces, choosing 
for their commander-in-chief Dhrishta-dyumna, the 
brother of their wife Draupadi, and marched with 

1 In modem times, this plain (now called Panipat) is celebrated as having 
been the scene of three decisive battles which sealed the fate of upper India: 
in 1526 when Baber on his invasion of India completely defeated the impe- 
rial forces; in 1556 when his grandson, Akbar, on the same battlefield con- 
quered Hemu, the Hindu commander, and finally on the 7th of January, in 
ITGl, when the sovereign of Cabul shattered the unity of the Mahratta power, 
thereby preparing the way for British rule. 

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strains of martial music to the beautiful plain, as yet 
unstained with blood. They were drawn up in solid 
phalanxes on the western side of the clear waters of 
the lake, while the hosts of the Kauravas were en- 
camped upon the eastern shore. The tropical sun 
looked down upon the gay trappings of horses and 
men, upon glittering spears and burnished shields. 
The richly caparisoned elephants were mounted by 
chieftains clad in brilliant armor and holding conch 
shells, upon which they sounded the signal of advance. 
Beside the camp of the Pan^avas the river Sara-swati 
flowed gently along between banks bordered with 
coroneted palms, while the many-colored lotuses rising 
above its bosom burdened the air with their fragrance. 


When the troops on both sides were ready for bat- 
tle, Duryodhana called one of his kinsmen and ordered 
him to carry a challenge into the other camp. He was 
received by the Panijavas according to the courtesies- 
of war, and addressed them as follows: ^^You have 
sworn, oh, Pandavas, that when your exile was ended 
you would wage a war against us, and the time has 
come for you to fulfill your oath. You have been 
deprived of your raj ; your wife Draupadi has been 
grievously insulted, and you have been driven into 
exile. Why then do you sit unconcerned when you 
ought to rush into battle with your hearts on fire? 

*^ Where is the sleepy Bhima, who threatened to 
drink the blood of Duhsasana, who waits for him here ? 
We are assured that whoever comes out to battle 
against us, be he man or elephant, will never escape with 

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his life, and though you are our brethren, you know no 
more of our power than the frog who lives in a river 
knows of the eaves beneath it. In order to obtain a 
raj, men should have good fortune as well as strength. 
Of what use was the bow of Arjuna at the gambling 
match where you staked yourselves to become our 
slaves ?" 

This speech elicited an angry response and eager 
acceptance ; but before the two armies were hurled 
against each other the following rules of warfare were 
agreed upon : 

1. There shall be no strategy or treachery. 

2. When we are not fighting there may be free and 
friendly intercourse between the two camps. 

3. The fugitives, the suppliants, and the charioteers 
shall not be slain. 

4. Horsemen shall fight only with horsemen and 
footmen with footmen. 

5. When warriors are fighting with words only, no 
one shall take up arms against them. 

6. Xo man shall take up arms against another with- 
out giving him warning. 

7. When two combatants are engaged with each 
other no third man shall inteifere.* 

The rules of warfare being decided upon, night 
came down upon the plain and wrapped the expectant 
armies in a sleep which was lighted by dreams of vic- 
tory. But when the moon came out in the troubled 

J These peculiar rules of warfare are evidently an interpolation of later 
date. The great war was not fought upon these principles, and they are 
at variance with the barbarous character of those times, as well as with 
the fierce hatred which prevailed between the parties. It is probable, 
therefore, that the first onset between the two armies took place imme- 
diately after the insulting challenge of Duryodhana had been accepted. 

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sky her pale face was stained with blood, and the low 
roll of distant thunder was heard. Dark clouds wept 
over the coming contest, and their tears were tears of 

But the fearful omens vanished before the rays of 
the morning sun. Drums were beaten, trumpets and 
war shells were sounded, and gorgeous banners waved 
upon the air. The rajas on either side wore golden 
armor and stood in their chariots radiant with the 
gems which gleamed on their hands or flashed in the 
setting of their golden mail. On the one side the 
troops were drawn up in the form of a crescent, while 
on the other they stood awaiting the battle in the 
shape of an enormous bird with outstretched wings. 
Elephants, cavalry, and endless hosts of infantry* 
swayed to and fro like the rushing waves of a bound- 
less sea. The chieftains arranged their magical arrows 
in their quivers, and everything was ready for the 

lit is claimed that princes from the remotest parts of India were gath- 
ered under these banners. The troops employed are said to have num- 
bered millions, billions, trillions, and even more reckless figures are ad- 
vanced. If all the present inhabitants of the earth were multiplied a 
thousand times over they would still fall short of the fabulous numbers 
which the Hindus claim were engaged in this "Great War." Even the 
elephants and chariots are counted by tens of millions. Chariots are 
said to have been broken or burned by an arrow, and the great war ele- 
phants are represented as being conquered and killed by a single blow 
from the haud of any one of the warriors. 

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ri iHE great plain glittered with radiant armor and 
-*- the bright trappings of war horses, while the 
impatient armies awaited the signals of their chief- 
tains and a terrible conflict was momentarily expected. 
At this point in the account a later hand has interpo- 
lated a long series of discourses by Krishna, called the 
Bhagavad-gita, which will be treated in another chap- 
ter. According to some writers the foe consider- 
ately waited until this *^ Divine Song^^ was finished, 
and then the attack was made by Bhishma, who ad- 
vanced with the troops of the Kauravas. 

The mighty host poured over the plain with their 
lances gleaming in the sunlight and gorgeous banners 
waving above them. The gallant Karna led his faith- 
ful bands close behind the battalion of his commander. 
The monarch, in golden armor, rode upon his great 
war elephant, whose gorgeous trappings were in har- 


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mony with tlie glittering uniform of the king. As 
tiiey marched to the front the war shell of Bhishma 
sounded it^ defiant ehiillenge nbove the strains of mar* 
tiul muaic and the whole army was hurled upon the 

** The sons of Pan\in marked the commg Btoi-in 
And swift arrayed their force. The chief divine 
And Arjima at the king's request 
Rai^d in the van the ape- em blazoned banner/ 
The liost^s conducting star^ the guiding light 
That cheered the bravest hearty and as it swept 
The air, it wanned each breast with martial fires." 

Arjuna led his battalion in person, Standing in his 
chariot, covered with gleaming mail and sternly grasp- 
ing his massive bow.. Gang^iva, he was looked upon by 
his men as the messenger of fate, 

"NoWj as on cither hand the hosts advanced, 
A sndden tumult filled the sky ; earth shook 
Chafed by the winds, the sands upcurled to heaven 
And spread a veil before the sun. 

■ *••«•« 
And ever and anon the thnnder roared^ 
And angry lightnings flashed across the gloom^. 
Or blazing meteors fearful shot to earth, 
Begardless of these awful signs, the chiofa 
Pressed on to mntual slaughter, and the peal 
Of shouting hosts commingling shook the world/' 

1 Arjuna had en treated the monkey aemlgod Hanuman to lend him his 
aid, but Hftimimaii replied that if he woiiltl put a pictures of a moukej on 
JiIh hanner it would answer eveQ' purpoEe, 

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The battle became general at the first attack and 
in a moment the air was thick with whizzing arrows, 
while the whole plain resounded to the beating of the 
drums, the sounding of the war shells, the neighing 
of the horses, and the roaring of elephants. In the 
first terrible charge it seemed as if heaven and earth 
had come together. Swords and spears flashed like 
lightnings in the sunlight, and every stroke was fol- 
lowed with blood, which stained the gleaming armor 
before it reached the sod of the plain. A cloud of 
dust soon dimmed the light of the sun, and beneath 
its pall the shouting combatants struggled in deadly 

At last the son of Arjuna, seeing that the battle 
was going against the Paii^avas, made a personal at- 
tack upon Bhishma and his staff. He succeeded in 
cutting down the ensign on his chariot, and in his 
reckless charge left many a foe helpless upon the 
field. But the night came down upon the fearful 
scene, and the warriors retired to their camps without 
any decisive gain to either side. The next day, how- 
ever, after many hours of hard fighting, the Pan^avas 
were victorious, Arjuna in a brilliant charge driving 
the foe from the field. Rising still higher in his 
chariot he exclaimed : 

^^ * Fear not, my friends, still, still your fame maintain !' 
So speaking, on he dashed with whirling wheel 
Through the deep streams of blood, with carcasses 
And shattered weapons choked, and thundering drove 
Against the Kuru ranks. Around his course 
In clouds the arrows flew, and darkened earth 

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And heaveti, and hid the combatants from sight. 

Precursor of nocturnal shades ; for now 

The sun behind the western mountain Bunk, 

And gloom profound eusned, nor friend nor foe 

Could longer be distinguished. Droim then 

Comniuiided conflict cease^ and Arjana 

Restrained his now re-animated troops* 

Each to his tent withdrew* Amidst his jreers 

The glorioiiB Arjuna unrivaled shone 

As gleams the moon araongst the stars of heaven/* 


dawned bright and beautiful upon the blood-stained 
field. The Panclavas drew up their armj in the foim 
of a half moon, and attacked at once the center and 
both flanks of the foe, throwing thorn into complete dis- 
orderj then rapidly re-farmed and charged again. 
The slaughter of the day was terrible; the plain was 
strewn with heaps of dead and weapons of every 
description. There were headless bodies^ and riderless 
horsesj and the dust of the plain was laid with blood ; 
but the Pantjavas again put to flight the Kauravas, who 
fled before them like frightened deer. Duryodhaiia 
at last reproached his commander- in-chiefj Bhishma^ 
with his repeated disasters, and complained that he was 
indifferent to the great slaughter of his own troops. 
The furious chieftain responded to his complaints with 
the defiant sonnding of shells and the braying of trum- 
pets. His disheartened followers respontled bmvely to 
his call, and in a fiercely fought battle the Pandlavajs 

I In ttie cirlgkm] it h £tt&ted ihm the Ijodlen of the slain ro&e np wiUiout 
their beads aud gav^ battle to each other. 

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were repulsed. They rallied, however, under the ** ape- 
emblazoned banner^' of Arjuna, and the Kauravas were 
again defeated, while shouts of victory and the tri- 
umphant notes of shell and bugle arose from the hosts 
of Pan(Ju. 


Five days longer the terrible contest went on with 
varying result, but the advantage was mainly with the 
Pan^avas.^ At last, stung by the reproaches of his 
king, and receiving an intimation that the resignation 
of his command would be acceptable, Bhishma declared 
that upon the morrow he would either be victorious or 
would be left dead upon the field. On the tenth day 
of the war, therefore, he challenged Arjuna to single 
combat, and after many hours of desperate fighting he 
received a mortal wound from the hand of his favorite 
pupil.* Drona was then given the position of com- 
mander-in-chief, and the fighting became, if possible, 
more desperate. 

^^ Forgot his years — the veteran chieftain fired 
With rage, the energy of youth resumed ; 
Amidst the Pan^u ranks he smote resistless. 
And many a headless corse and mangled limb 

1 The wildest descriptions are given of the victories of these warriors. 
Arjuna is described as killing five hundred warriors at once ; as covering the 
plain with dead and filling the rivers with blood. Bhima is represented 
as annihilating with a single blow of his club a monstrous elephant with all 
the oflficers mounted upon it, and many foot soldiers beside, while the 
younger Pandavas, from their chariots, were cutting off thousands of heads 
and sowing them like seed upon the ground. 

2 Bhishma is said to have been so evenly pierced in every part of his body 
by the arrows of Arjuna, that when he fell mortally wounded from his char- 
iot, he rested upon the points of the arrows and lay thus for many weeks. 
The whole episode is probably an lnteri)olation. 

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Ami ciir deserted msirkod the vs'iirriur'^ imtli, 

Fai^t flew liis arrow^j with iinerriiig^ aim, 

And heaven luud cehoed to hk rattling how. 

Tlie Boi] was saddened with the erimsaii strt^am 

Ot tli(j vast Tiuinhers, nmo and steeds^ and ekphanta, 

Whom Jjrona's shafts to YamaV hallB consigned/' 

The fight he t ween Dhi-i.^hta-dynmna and Drona wius a 
hnig jiiid doubtful conllict. At length Krishnii sng- 
^n'^ttnl tinit if Yiidlii'Wlithira woiihl a^anre Drona tliat 
his son, A^vattlifunann waB dead, the ohl warrior wouhl 
lose all heart and Ijeeome an easy prey to Ilia oppo- 
nent, Yndhi-filithira, ]n)wever, refiiBcd to tell the kise 
falsehood re([inred of him. Krialina tlien directed the 
iTindavas to kill an tjlephiuit that w^as named Ai^vatt- 
Iiarnan. and l*rona wm told tluit A^vatthfiman was 
d<ad. Not believing it he fought fiercely, and ]iis 
fidid Idov^K fell witli terrilde effect npon both the cav- 
ah y itnd infantry of the foc.^ Feeling rnixiout^, bow- 
ever, abont ]m m\u he called to Yiulhi-shthira to know 
if he were indeed dead. Yndhi-shthira answered : 
** Aavattliaman is dead— not the man, hnt the elephant." 
Knowing tliat he was abont to tell the whole truth, 
Krishna luid Arjnna sonnded their war shells furiously 
as Rfjon a^^ tlie firet words were uttered » ^o that Drona 
heard only the messag(^ of death. Relieving tliat his 
son had indeed faMen, he hi.itl down his arms and 
willingly received the fatal hlow. The death of the 
great eonimander was tiie turning-point in the terrihle 

1 TbP <>H>!^hm! f^tates that Uie liifuriatpd commamler sle^v len IfioutHiiid 
wivaJry iuul tv^tfuly thoui^iind iiininlLiy nt I his t^rititiil Jiitii'ein?^ hihI vvinild 
imvi? iles.troyt^il ihe wJioi^ anuy iff tijc enemy Jjml he ijot beeai reetmined hf 
Uie gniifi, who remlnd^id him that he was a Brahmau^ 

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The days went by with blood-stained feet, and mul- 
titudes of biitve men had been lost on both sides. 
The gallant son of Arjuna — a mere stripling — had 
fallen while fighting bravely against a cordon of Kuru 
chieftains. His grief-stricken father had sworn ven- 
geance upon the slayers of his son, and the terrible 
conflict grew more and more desperate. And now at 
set of sun there was no stay to the spilling of blood, 
as heretofore. The troops fought on while darkness 
gathered around them. Friends instead of foes some- 
times fell beneath the strokes of the warriors, but still 
no trumpet called retreat. The pale moon came up 
and looked upon the awful scene, but as her light sil- 
vered the spears and helmets, it lighted up also dark 
pools of blood and the headless forms of the slain. 
Then she grew paler still and shuddering with horror 
drew back her face behind the clouds of night. 

But the furious avenger of the fallen boy ordered 
lighted torches to be brought, and soon every war- 
rior was carrying a gleaming flambeau in one hand and 
his sword in the other, while the chariots of the com- 
manders fairly blazed with lurid light. The whole plain 
was illumined with the fitful fire, and the golden armor 
of the rajas shone in the light that fell upon the living 
and the dead. Their jeweled arms sparkled beneath 
the glare as if in mockery of the groans of dying men, 
and their swords gleamed in the firelight as they drank 
the blood of the foe. Hour after hour passed away in 
the terrible work, until midnight hushed the voices 
of anger and Arjuna called his wearied troops to rest. 

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Then tke exhausted horseman laid his tired head upon 
his steed and ekpt upon the field ; the foeman lay 
upon hiB arms, and the riders of elephants reposed 
upon their faitlifol bearers, 


l^QW that their commander-in-chief, the Tenerable 
Drona, was numbered with the dead, the tido of battle 
went steadily agaiiist the Kauravas, but they bravely 
gathered their shattered troops and made a gallant 
rally under the leadership of Karua. The fighting was 
again desperate, but after leading the armies of the 
Kanravas for two days the new commander was elain 
in single combat with Arjuna, hig death being caused 
by the dishonorablD conduct of his opponent^ who acted 
under the advice of Krislina, On the evening of the 
seventeenth day of the great contest Halya was placed 
in command. The eighteenth and last morning of the 
great war dawned bright and clear above the fieldj 
whose blood'Stained soil was rough with the bodies 
of her dead. The brave Kauravas once more charged 
upon their triumphant foe, but the charioteer of §alya 
was slaiOj and his death was quickly folk^wed by a 
single combat between Bhima and Salya, They fought 
with jeweled maces, while the remnants of both armies 
anxiously waited for the result, 

"Soon as he saiv his charioteer struck down. 
Straightway the Madra monarch grasped his mace 
And Hkc a mountain firm and motionleea 
Awaited the attack. The warrior's form 
Was awful as the world'consuming fire. 

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Or as the noose-armed god of death, or as 
The peaked Kailasa, or the Thunderer 
Himself, or as the trident-bearing god. 
Or as a maddened forest elephant. 
Him to defy did Bhima hastily 
Advance, wielding aloft his massive club. 
A thousand conchs and trumpets and a shout. 
Firing each champion's ardor, rent the air. 
From either host, spectators of the fight, 
Burst forth applauding cheers : ^ The Madra King 
Alone,' they cried, ^can bear the rush of Bhima ; 
None but heroic Bhima can sustain 
The force of Salya.' Now like two fierce bulls 
Sprang they towards each other, mace in hand. 
And first as cautiously they circled round. 
Whirling their weapons as in sport, the pair 
Seemed matched in equal combat. 6alya's club. 
Set with red fillets, glittered as with flame. 
While that of Bhima gleamed like flashing light- 
Anon the clashing iron met and scattered round 
A fiery shower; then fierce as elephants. 
Or butting bulls they battered each the other. 
Thick fell the blows, and soon each stalwart frame. 
Spattered with gore, glowed like the Kinsuka, 
Bedecked with scarlet blossoms ; yet beneath 
The rain of strokes, unshaken as a rock, 
Bhima sustained the mace of Salya, he 
With equal firmness bore the other's blows. 
Now like the roar of crashing thunder-clouds 
Sounded the clashing iron ; then, their clubs 
Brandished aloft, eight paces they retired. 

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And swift again advancing to the fight 

Met in the midst, like two huge mountain crags 

Hurled into contact. Nor could either bear 

The other's shock ; together down they rolled 

Mangled and crushed, like two tall standards fallen. ^'^ 

Thii Kaumvaa afttT coutimia] reverses nillied their 
scattered forces for ii fiiitil eliargc, which led to a eom- 
pleto rout and general slaughter* Only three or four 
of their chiefs remained alive, and not a single soldier 
of their eleven armies had survived the campaign. 
The vict(»rs in the fight were but little better off ; at 
the end of the terrible contest otily the five Piintjavas 
and two of their adherents still lived. Of the many 
million:^ said to have been eugaged only eleven war- 
riors survived the contest. 


The elder brother of the Paiijavas was duly crowned 
as king of the entire ruj. tireat pomp aud magoifi- 
eence attended the cei'emouy, but the willow was 
entwined with the hmrel, and the ej^jress of death 
was wreathed with the roses of victory. The aged 
Dhrita-nishtra mounied his fallen sons, and the new 
raja was sad at lieart. In the triiimijhal proeessione 
in hie boner the low wail of suffering was mingled 
with the strains of martial music ; for his victory had 
been won at a fearful cost, and the royal eaiu^py above 
his head seemed draped with mourning. But he sub- 
mitted to the splendors of the ceremony, and sat upon 
the royal tiger^s skin before the sacrificial lire with 

1 WiUUm^ traDs. Ind. Wis., p, 408. 

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Draupadi, the wife of all the Panijavas. With no sign 
either of sorrow or joy he distributed the usual gifts, 
and in his public address he announced that he lived 
only for his people and to promote the happiness of 
the blind king, whose sons had been slain in battle. 
The days went by amid splendid pageantry whose royal 
magnificence was often disturbed by the requiems for 
the dead. At last the new raja, with a retinue of 
attendants, sought the counsel of the aged Bhishma, 
who still lay upon his arrowy bed on the forsaken 
battle-field. (See note to page 308.) 

Passing over the broken arrows, wrecked chariots, and 
unburied forms of their kinsmen, they found the suf- 
fering patriarch patiently awaiting his release. He 
delivered a long discourse to Yudhi-shthira on his duties 
toward the living, and then bade them farewell. The 
arrows left his body, his skull divided, and his spirit, 
bright as a meteor, ascended through the top of his 
head to the skies. Then they covered him with beau- 
tiful garlands of flowers, and carried him to the sacred 
waves of the Ganges. The purifying waters were 
sprinkled over his silent form, and the oblations for 
the dead were done. 

Eeturning to his kingdom, the raja resumed the 
duties of his government, but the splendors of his 
position brought no rest to his burdened heart — no 
peace to his troubled spirit. When he slept the hor- 
rors of the battle-field intruded upon his vision, and in 
his waking hours his hands seemed stained with blood. 
At last he determined upon the performance of an 
Asva-medha, the greatest and most difficult rite that 
a raja can perform, by the accomplishment of which 

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he was believed to have asserted his sovereignty over 
tlie whole earth. 

In deference to hie age, the blind Dhrita-niehtra 
waa placed npon a throne of gold above the one oecti- 
pied by Yiulhi-shtliiraj bnt the old king could not 
forget iiis slain fionet, nor did he wish to share the 
honors? of the government with their miirdererB^ even 
thongh they treated him with the deference which 
was due' to his years and infirmity. The aged mon- 
arch therefore left the kingdom, taking his faithful 
wife and a few other friends with hi in, and estab- 
lished a modest home on the hanks of the Gstnges. 
The soft monotone of the sacred waves was the sweet- 
est of music to the blind raja. Afar from the cares 
of government and away from the haunfes of men, lie 
sat upon the green banks of the river and listened 
hour after hour to the musical murmur of the waters 
a8 they hurried by. 

In after years the PandaTas, with Branpad], made a 
Yisit to the aged king, and gathered there upon the 
sacred river they talked in loW;, sad tones of the hor- 
rors of the war and the brave men lost. The eage 
Vyaea then said to them : *^ Go all of you into the 
river and bathe, and each shall behold the kinsman 
for whom he hag been Borrowing," So they all went 
down to the beautiful stream and chose a bathing place 
for themselves and their families. 

At eventime, when the Bun was floating slowly away 
in a sea of gold and crimson lights they entered the 
clear waters of the river. Then the waves heat higher, 
and the foam-crested billows rolled like an angry sea 
in a storm* The last rose-tinted rays faded from the 

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western sky and darkness settled down upon the foam- 
ing river, when from the restless bosom of the tide 
arose living knights in armor. Bhishma and Drona 
appeared in their chariots,' and the starlight gleamed 
softly upon their golden armor. Then came the heroic 
son of Arjuna and the five sons of Draupadi; after 
them, all the heroes of the war, mounted upon horses 
or chariots and carrying their banners and weapons. 
But peace rested upon the ensign of the risen host, 
and voices were heard chanting their praises. The 
glad wife embraced her restored husband ; the mother 
sought her boys ; sisters rejoiced over their brothers, 
and in the glad hour of reunion the fifteen years of 
loneliness and pain were forgotten. ^ The night passed 
away in the fulness of joy, but when the morning 
dawned the risen warriors mounted their horses and 
chariots and rode away in the gray light of the coming 
day, and the loyal widows went down and drowned 
themselves in the river that they might join their 
husbands in the land beyond the tomb. 

Then the raja and his brotjiers and their wife Drau- 
padi took leave of the blind king on the shores of the 
Ganges, and returned to the capital city. They never 
saw his face again, for in a few days the news came 
that there had been a terrible fire in the jungle and 
that Dhrita-rashtra and all of his family had perished 
in the flames. 

1 For many centuries the sacred books of the Hindus had steadily taught 
the transmigration of the soul, and this sudden change to the very opposite, 
viz. : the doctrine of the resurrection, is additional proof that portions of the 
Maha-bharata were written after the story of the risen Christ had penetrated 
India. The author is supported in this opinion by Richard Collins, M. A., 
of the Philosophical Society of Great Britain. 

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The burning of the jungle with itB fatal resiilti 
brought terror to the hearts of the Fautlavae, for they 
looked upon it as a bad omen for the futurc'-tlie be- 
ginning of horrors. In a short time sad tiding^^ came 
from Dvarakii, the capital of Krishna, wlio was the 
chief of the tribe of Yadava^. The fair city was situated 
upon the ocean shores and the vine-laden valleys ai-oiind 
it were beautiful m a poet's dream. But the rich 
clusters of fruit were perverted from their legitimate 
use and the fermented Juice of the grape became the 
curse of the city by the sea, Krishna and his brother 
Bala-rama are spoken of in the Maha-bhilnita as ^*the 
wine-loving Bala-rama and the amorous Krishna. " 

The capital was often the scene of disgraceful dis- 
sipation^ for the tribe of Yadavas (cow^-hcrds) were 
never noted for their morality* Dvaraka was visited^ 
it is saidi by a fearful apparition, which showed itself 
at the doors of all the houses. The people declared 
that it wm death in human form^ for its color w^as 
black and yellow, and its head was ehorn^ and all of 
its limbs were distorted. They who saw it were para- 
ly^sed with fear or convulsed with trembling. Then 
a great w^ind arose and trees were uprooted and car- 
ried away by the power of the tempest^ while the ter- 
rified rats swarmed into the houses hy thousands and 
even gnawed the hair and beards of the sleeping in- 
mates. The frightened owls also sought the compan- 
ionship of men and crowded into their habitations, 
while other birds cried in terror during the long hours 
of the night. 

At last Krishna issued a proclamation that on the 


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morrow all the people of the city should go down to 
the seashore and pay their devotions to the deity of 
Dvaraka. But as if in defiance of this proclamation 
the apparition of a black woman, clothed in black gar- 
ments, walked slowly into the streets. From house to 
house she wandered, looking in at the windows and 
grinning at the inmates, her great yellow teeth pro- 
jecting beyond her distorted lips. If any one attempted 
to seize her she vanished out of his hands with a 
low mocking laugh and showed her hideous head far 
away. Then the charioteer of Krishna harnessed his 
master's horses, but they bounded into the air and bore 
the chariot far out over the foaming sea, where they 
disappeared forever from sight. 

Hoping to put an end to these terrible omens and 
avert further disaster, the people gathered upon the 
shores of the sea to propitiate the god of Dvaraka. 
SomQ took up their abode in tents upon the sand, 
while others sought the shelter of trees ; but they car- 
ried with their provisions a great abundance of wine, 
and the expedition which was intended as an act of 
devotion became a scene of disgraceful revelry. All 
the chieftains of the Yadavas were there, and the wine 
flowed freely. Soon insults began to take the place of 
jesting; angry words were followed by angry blows. 

At last Krishna ordered a friend to repeat a story 
which represented one of the chieftains as a thief and 
a murderer, whereupon the insulted chief drew his 
sword, and calling upon his friends to aid him they 
slew the man who told the story and also a son of 
Krishna, with many other warriors. The melee now 
became general, for Krishna sprang into the fight and 

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slew the murderers of his son. But the combatants 
were all so frantic with anger and with wine that they 
fell indiscriminately upon each other, striking blindly 
at friend and foe alike. Drunken fathers slew their 
sons ; brothers fought together until one was slain, 
when tlie turvivor Butight a fresh victim. The etrife 
went on until the wliole tribe of Yudavus were killed 
except Bala-nnna mid KriBhna iiiid one other chieftain, 
the mnxB and gruudsona of Krishna being amongst the 
&\mm His charioteer came presently to his master and 
told him that his brother, BalH-rama, had gone out of 
the crowd at the beginning of the troul>le ; the cliief 
the I'e fore with iiia one sur\iving friend went to find 

They foimd liiin ^ittiiig in the dense shade of a 
bjiiiyun tree, whoi^e gimrled roots wei^e reaching hungrily 
down from tlie branches to find nourishment in the 
earth- Krishna comniiinded his charioteer to go hastily 
to llastinapur and tell the lYuidavas of the trouble, 
and ref]uesfc the raja Yudht-shtliira to send Arjuna with 
all speed to Dvaritkru He also ordered his compan- 
ion to go immediately to Dvaraka and to save the 
women and ehiUlren from the Inuul!^ of the drunken 
populace. Tlie chieftain litarted upon his errand of 
mercy, but he was attaeked by a drunken fisherman, 
who slew him on his \viky. 


When Krishna approached bis brother, who wa^ sit- 
ting with closed eyes and leaiung against the trunk of 
the banyan tree, he found that he was already dead, 
and exclaiming, **I saw all the Kauravas perish, and 

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now I have seen all of the Yadavas elain/^ the mourner 
sat down near the dead body of his brother and gave 
himself up to troubled thoughts. But a hunter pass- 
ing near saw him and mistaking him for a wild ani- 
mal shot him, killing him instantly. "Thus died the 
mighty Krishna. ^^ 

The city of Dvaraka was now a city of widows and 
orphans; the wail of wondering children was mingled 
with the lamentations of the women. 

Each one of the sixteen thousand wives of Krishna 
appeared to think that her wifely duty consisted in 
making louder demonstrations of grief than the others, 
and when Arjuna entered the city he was distracted 
with the terrible bowlings within her walls ; for the 
mourning wives came to meet him with disheveled hair 
and violent outcries. As soon as Arjuna could com- 
mand himself, he went to the scene of the drunken 
melee where the Yadavas had slain each other. With 
the assistance of the Brahmans who had survived the 
disaster he gathered a great quantity of fuel and 
burned the bodies of the dead, not neglecting the usual 
funeral oblations. Then he sent parties out in various 
directions to search for the bodies of Bala-rama and 
Krishna, which when found he caused to be burned 
" with much precious odors '' and " sprinkled water 
for their souls. '* Four of Krishna's widows burned 
themselves upon the funeral pile, and all the others 
assumed the dress of devotees and retired to the jun- 
gle.^ Arjuna took the treasures of the city and the 

iThe number of his wives is elsewliere given definitely as sixteen 
thousand one hundred and nine. It is also stated that his wives bore him 
one hundred and eighty thousand sons, but in this immediate connection 
nothing is said of this large family of fatherless children, except that his 
sons and grandsons were killed in the drunken melee. 

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remnant of her people — a few Brahmans and a multi- 
tude of women and children — home with him, and 
settled them in Indra-prastha. Scarcely had they left 
the scene of revelry and crime, when the waves of the 
sea arose and swept the devoted city down into her 
bosom. Fishes swam through the gilded saloons of 
Dvaraka, and the sea mosses twined around cornice 
and pillar, while the moaning waves sang the requiem 
of fallen splendor and the billows chanted the dirge 
for the dead. 


The reign of Yudhi-shthira was one long drama of 
sorrow — one dark scene of tragedy. The stain of fra- 
ternal blood was on his ivory throne and on the costly 
draperies of his palace. Even with the strains of 
martial music were mingled the minor chords of 
grief, and the drum-beats seemed muffled as for a fun- 
eral dirge. For thirty-six years he struggled bravely 
to overcome the disaster and gloom that met him on 
every side, .but at last he decided to abdicate the 
throne which had been obtained at such fearful cost, 
and make a pilgrimage to Indra's heaven, in the rocky 
heights of Mount Meru.^ When his loyal brothers 
heard of this high resolve, they determined to share 

1 The mournful grandeur of the raja amidst the magnificence of his 
court suggests the touching scene in Book XIII of the Odyssey, when 
Ulysses after ten years of war and ten years more of wandering reaches 
the goal of his ambition upon the shores of Ithaca. Bitterly the hero be- 
wails his disappointment: 

" Then on the sands he ranged his wealthy store, 

The gold, the vests, the tripods numbered o'er; 

All these he found, but still in error lost 

Disconsolate he wanders on the coast. 

Sighs for his country and laments again 

To the deaf rocks and hoarse-resounding main." 

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his fate, and with Draupadi followed him to the great 
wilderness. The people pressed after, remonstrat- 
ing and pleading with the raja to return, but finding 
him immovable they bade the wanderers farewell 
and returned to the city. His wife and brothers and 
a faithful dog were now his only courtiers. The im- 
perial canopy was the blue heaven above him and his 
kingdom the wilderness around him. 

** Then the high-minded sons of Pancju and the noble 

Roamed onwards, fasting, with their faces towards the 
east ; their hearts 

Yearning for union with the Infinite, bent on abandon- 

Of worldly things. They wandered on to many coun- 
tries, many a sea 

And river. Yudhi-shthira walked in front, and next to 
him came Bhima ; 

And Arjuna came after him, and then, in order, the 
twin brothers. 

And last of all came Draupadi, with her dark skin and 
lotus eyes — 

The faithful Draupadi, loveliest of women, best of noble 
wives — 

Behind them walked the only living thing that shared 
their pilgrimage — 

The dog. And by degrees they reached the briny sea; . . 

They reached the northern region and beheld with 
heaven-aspiring hearts 

The mighty mountain Himavat.^ Beyond its lofty peak 
they passed 

1 Himalaya. 

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Towards a sea of sand, and saw at last the rocky Meru, 

Of mountains. As with eager steps they hastened on, 

their souls intent 
On union with the Eternal, Draupadi lost hold of her 

high hope, 
And faltering fell upon theearth/^* 

One by one the others fell, leaving only Bhima, 
Yudhi-shthira, and the dog. The eldest walked on un- 
moved by the fate of the others, with his calm, inflexi- 
ble face fixed toward the summit, but Bhima ques- 
tioned him as to the reason of their fall. He answered 
that it was because of their sinful thoughts. That 
Draupadi fell because of her excessive love for Arjuna ; 
the others on account of pride or vanity. At last 
Bhima fell also and was told that he suffered death 
on account of his selfishness. 


Only Yudhi-shthira was now left, and he walked per- 
sistently onward still followed by the faithful dog. 
At last he was met by Indra, who hailed him as a 
prince and invited him to ascend to heaven. Then 
the king looked back upon his fallen brothers and 

*^ Let my brothers here 
Come with me. Without them, god of gods, I would 

not wish to enter 
E^en heaven ; and yonder princess Draupadi, the faith- 
ful wife 

1 William's trans. lud. Wis., p. 412. 

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Worthy of endless bliss, let her, too, come. In mercy 
hear my prayer.'^ 

Indra replied that the spirits of Draupadi and his 
brothers were already in heaven, and that only the 
king himself could be permitted to ascend in his 
bodily form. Yudhi-shthira then implored that his dog 
might be permitted to go with him to Paradise, but 
Indra indignantly asserted that "Heaven was no place 
for men accompanied by dogs." The king, however, 
firmly refused to go into the radiant home of Indra 
unless his dog could bear him company. "You have 
abandoned Draupadi and your brothers, why not for- 
sake your dog?" the god demanded. To this the 
king replied : ** I had no power to bring them back 
to life; how can I abandon those who no longer live ?" 

Finding that Yudhi-shtira was determined not to 
leave him, the dog, who had been the king's father 
in a former birth, assumed his human form and the 
two went together into Paradise. There beneath the 
golden dome and amidst the jeweled thrones he found 
Duryodhana and all the Kauravas, but neither his 
brothers nor Draupadi were present. Addressing In- 
dra he declared that he could not stay in heaven 
without the presence of those he loved, and besought 
the god that he might share their fate in hell. A 
radiant messenger was therefore sent from the throne 
of Indra to conduct the king to the lower regions. 

He entered a dense forest composed of trees which 
bore terrible thorns and swords instead of leaves. 
With naked feet he walked over pavements made of 
razors with the edges upturned to meet the culprit. 

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He passed over the foul and mutilated bodies of those 
who had preceded him, while hideous shapes flitted 
through the darkness and hovered with outstretched 
hands above him. Onward, still onward, he urged 
his way with cut and mangled feet, until he came to 
the place of burning, where the forms of his brothers 
were men in the pitiless flames with multitudes of 

Dratipadi turut^d her Bulfering eyes to him and 
reaching out lier Im ruing liands she pleaded with liirii 
to i^vve tier. The bea*eching voices of his brothers, 
also, wpro borne to his ear, and in ii niument the 
ht'roii^ heiirt \ni<l chosen to share thdv pairu Tnniing 
to hiB nngel guide, lie bade liirn go and leave him 
there with those ho loved. Brave soul I It was the 
lai^t trial of his loyal heart, and the terrible illusion 

lie wtis bidden to go and bathe in the sacred watttrs 
ai the (ianges, and as he entered tlie cooling waves 
heaven Mas opened above liim, and there in the land 
of undying flowers he was greeted by the gentle 
T)ran]KMlT. Advancing from curtains of azure, with 
her dark eyes gleaming with light mid love, she gave 
him one delicate hand and led him to a royal throne 
gleaming with jewels and draped with flowers. On 
beyonJ a floral grove he saw the glad faces of his 
brothers amid the roses, a!id turning lie made a joy- 
ful salutation to India, the god of battles. 

Beside the main story of the MahtVbliarata which 
we have here given, there is an interminable mass of 
myth and legend, consisting mainly of fairy tales of 
little or no literary value. For instance, in the urig- 

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inal poem there are hundreds of pages devoted to the 
adventures of the horse which Yudhi-shthira allowed to 
wander at his will during the prescribed year of prepa- 
ration for the A^va-medha sacrifice. 

But there is occasionally a gem of sentiment which 
ought to be preserved, such as the victory of love 
over death in the beautiful legend of Savitri and 
Satyavan. This little poem is well worthy of the 
attention which has been given it by various scholars. 
Of all the myths of the Maha-bharata it is perhaps 
the purest and most touching. We give a prose ver- 
sion of it in the following pages. 

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savitrI and SATYAVAN. 

THE king's daughter — SAVITRi's CHOICE — THE MAR- 

T ONG years ago there lived in palace halls the 
-^— * mighty king of Kekaya. Gallant and brave in 
person, just and beneficent in the administration of 
the laws of his realm, he was the hero of his people 
and they rendered to him a loyal obedience. 

But King Asva-pati carried a desolate heart amidst 
the magnificence which surrounded him, for the gods 
had written him childless. Through long years of 
faithful fasting and penance his prayers had been unan- 
swered. But one glad day the goddess of the sun 
arose from his sacrificial fire ; beautiful and bright she 
came in the form of glorious womanhood, and rising 
through the crimson flame stepped into the royal pres- 
ence, saying : ^^ What wilt thou, mighty raja, \ that 
I shall do for thee ? I have listened to thy prayers ; 
I have watched thy penance, and seen the bounty of 
thine offerings. During all the years of thy reign 
the poor have found in thee a valued friend, and 
now, oh, king ! I wait to do thy bidding ; tell me 
now the dearest wish of thy heart.'' And A^va-pati 
answered : '^ Oh, beautiful goddess, 'tis for my barren 


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line that I do penance and have performed my vows 
lo ! these many years. Give me an heir for my throne 
and kingdom ; give me children to grace my royal 
hearthstone/' Then the radiant goddess smiling said : 
''I knew thy wish, oh king, and there shall be born 
a daughter unto thee — not a son, but a fair girl — 
the loveliest that the stars have ever shone upon ;'* 
and, smiling still, the beauteous vision vanished in the 
sacrificial flame. 

Time passed on with flying feet, and ere long a 
child was given to the royal house and courtiers 
brought their praise unto the palace gates, while the 
streets of the city were ringing with joyous music 
and everywhere the glad news went that the queen 
had borne a daughter — a babe of loveliest mould. 
The child was named SavitrT and the happy father 
made a royal birthday feast ; the poor were fed and 
the city was decorated with bright flags and long fes- 
toons of flowers. Every porch and pillar was made 
bright and fragrant with floral vines, and the great 
vases in front of the palace were filled with branches 
of orange and mango trees. 

The little one who met with such a royal welcome 
gi*ew more beautiful as the years went by, and when 
she reached the fair heights of womanhood, she was a 
vision of grace and loveliness. The lithe figure of this 
Indian maid was like a dream of beauty and grace, 
and the rosy light of health flashed through the olive 
shades of her face. The crimson lips smiled over 
pearly teeth and the great dark eyes were luminous 
with light and love. But still no raja dared to ask the 
hand of the princess in marriage. Her loveliness and 

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truth, her queenly independence had awed them into 

At last her father gave to her a princess' right to 
choose for herself a lord, and gave his royal word that 
the man she chose should be welcomed by her sire. 
A royal train moved through the provinces and visited 
every court, for Savitri with her ministers and maidens 
would take the air and travel for the princess' health. 
They received everywhere a royal welcome, but she 
loved best the trees and groves ; hence, they wandered 
through the fragrant woods and gathered fruits and 
flowers there. 

One day they found a hermit, aged and blind, who 
with his faithful wife sat in the dense shade of a teak 
tree, whose abundant leaves gleamed in the sunshine 
above them and protected them from its heat. The 
gentle princess stayed to give them a few kindly words 
and enjoy the wild flowers around the hermitage. 
While she listened to their story a young man came 
from the thicket bearing the sacred wood to be used 
in the evening sacrifice. He stopped in wonder and 
admiration before Savitri, and her eyes rested a mo- 
ment upon his manly form and honest face. It was 
Satyavan, the hermit's son, who stayed to serve his 
aged parents in their banishment, The princess had 
dawned upon his vision like a dream of heaven, and 
like a dream she vanished from his woodland home, 
leaving her memory to haunt his steps and make his 
loneliness more terrible. In the still hours of the night 
he heard her voice and saw the lovely face which had 
become part of his being. 

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One day the Maha-raja sat in his council hall with 
the sage Narada. They were talking in low tones of 
the affairs of state when the king's daughter was an- 
nounced. With her dark eyes glowing with light and 
happiness she stepped into the royal presence and 
bowed meekly before her father, who laid his hand 
lovingly upon her dark hair, as he bent down and 
caressed his child. Narada looked in admiration upon 
the princess and said to the king, " Thy daughter is 
very fair. Thou shouldst give her in marriage to the 
raja of some goodly kingdom/' ^^For this purpose she 
has been abroad/' replied the king. Then turning to 
his daughter he said, *^My child, hast thou chosen 
thy lord ? '' But she answered not. Standing before 
the sage with her face crimsoned with blushes, her 
eyes mutely appealed to her father to stay his ques- 
tions. Reading her wish, he said, "Fear not, my 
child, to speak before the sage Narada ; he is thy 
father's best and truest friend ; but tell me if thou 
hast found the object of thy search." Then she 
answered : " Father, I have been long away ; I have 
visited the courts of princes; I have offered sacrifice 
in the sacred groves, and I have found in one of these 
the banished king of Chalva, who lost his throne and 
kingdom because of blindness. An usurper reigns upon 
his throne, and his faithful queen stays with him in 
the woodland cot. Their loyal son ministers to their 
wants ; he brings them fruit and game for food ; he 
feeds their sacrificial fire and pulls the sacred kusa 
grass to make their couch both soft and warm; he 

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brings fresh water from the passing brook and gives 
them love and tenderness in their daily need. Father, 
I have chosen him, this banished prince, to be my 

Then said Narada, *^ Not he, my child, — thou canst 
not choose the banished Satyavan. He is both brave 
and noble ; a grander youth ne'er trod a kingly court, 
but o'er his head there hangs a fearful fate. He is 
doomed to die, and in a year the gods decide that he 
must go." Her blushes fled and her cheeks grew 
strangely pale as she answered : ** Whether he live long 
or die to day, whether he be full of grace and wisdom, 
or graceless stand before me, my heart hath chosen 
once — it chooseth not again, and I have my father's 
royal pledge that he will ratify my decision." 

Then said the king, ^^ Remember, child, the sad lot 
of Hindu widowhood, and choose again. The noblest 
raja in the land would gladly call thee wife. Let not 
this banished youth who has only a year to live take 
niv peerless Indian gem into his rough woodland 

The dark eyes were raised again to his and in their 
liquid depths he read her answer even before her lips 
replied, ^^A loyal heart can choose but once, and a loyal 
sire will not revoke his promise." 

Then the raja sighed, ^* As thou wilt, dear child, 
but for thine own sake I would have had thee make a 
wiser choice." One quick look of gratitude flashed 
from the wondrous eyes, then bending her blushing 
face to kiss her father's hand and reverently bidding 
the sage farewell, she left the council hall. 

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Having given his royal sanction to his daughter's 
choice, the king ordered that preparations should be 
made for the coming nuptials. Though the bride 
should dwell in a lonely hermitage she would still be 
a king's daughter, and her robes even in the woodland 
should befit her noble birth. It was an imperial 
pageant that went forth to the humble dwelling of 
the hermit. There were the priests and sages and 
courtiers, and the royal family, mounted upon the war 
elephants with their costly trappings. 

Amid the strains of martial music the train went 
forth from the palace gates. No courier had been 
sent to give warning of their coming ; therefore the 
king ordered a halt when near the hermitage, and he 
himself went forward to hold council with the blind 
lord of the humble home. Courteous salutations were 
passed between them, and after extending the modest 
hospitalities that still were his, the blind king asked 
what brought the Maha-raja to his door. ^^ I have 
come," said he, *^to ask of you that you will ratify my 
daughter's choice; she hath chosen your son Satyavan 
to be her lord." 

Then answered the banished king, ^^In the days of 
my proud position it was my ambition to link my house 
with yours by ties of blood, oh, noble king ! but now 
that my kingdom is lost and I am but a dethroned 
and banished sovereign, I could not take the lovely 
princess from her palace home to share our humble 

But the raja replied, ^^ You and I are both too old 

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to think that happiness is dependent upon luxury. We 
know that love can hold her sylvan court in humblest 
bower, and your son is the lady's choice. She has 
chosen to dwell in modest guise with him she loves 
rather than share the splendors of another. Shall we 
deny her wish?'' *^Nay, never," said the banished 
king. '^ Her gracious wish is mine, and great honor 
she brings to our fallen house. May the blessings 
of Indra rest upon her beauteous head ! " and calling 
Satyavan he told him why the raja came. The be- 
wildered prince could scarcely believe the lovely prin- 
cess had chosen him. His words were few ; but his 
eyes were eloquent with the joy his lips refused to 

Then the royal train was ordered into view, and 
there beneath the massive trees were gathered priest 
and sage with golden jars filled from the waves of the 
sacred Ganges. Beyond the great trees where the 
hermitage stood were thickets of rose laurel, whose 
fragrance filled the air ; on the other side a silver 
brook was hastening by to find rest in the bosom of 
a clear lake, beneath the fragrant cups of lotus 
blossoms and white lilies. Here in Nature's temple, 
beneath her shining dome and beside her sacred pools, 
with legal rites the two were bound in holy marriage ; 
and Love stayed by and held his court where the royal 
lovers pledged their faith. 

The raja and his queen bade their child a fond 
farewell, and when they passed from sight the princess 
took from her hands and arms the costly jewels that 
she wore and laid aside her silken robes ; then on her 
delicate form she placed the rough garments that be- 

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fitted her new station as a hermit's wife. Thus she 
proved the great love that brought her here ; she could 
not wear a finer robe than he; she could not see her 
little hands decked with gold and gems while his were 
roughened with honest toil. She had chosen to share 
the fortune of the man she loved, and no ray of bar- 
baric splendor should suggest to him that she cared 
for things he could not furnish. The gray-haired 
mother looked smilingly on and loved the loyal wife, 
whose gracious ways and loving words soon won the 
heart of the banished king as well. 

The little family dwelt in their forest home in sweet 
content and the days went by on silver feet. To Satya- 
van it seemed that life's ills all were done, and he rested 
in the heaven of his happiness feeling that the gods 
could do no more. But Savitri carried in her loving 
heart a fearful dread — a counting of the days when 
the death decree should be fulfilled. When the sun 
went down in the sea and the soft folds of night 
cooled the fevered earth she knew that one day less 
remained to Satyavan. 


At last the days had nearly fled — the little wife grew 
strangely still ; her gentle, loving deeds were still her 
own, but her songs were hushed in tearful prayers. 
When the time was nearly come she sat beneath a great 
tree like a beautiful statue and neither ate nor drank. 
For three long days and nights she sat thus, mutely 
imploring the gods to save from death's decree the man 
she loved. During all the year she had carried the 
fatal secret in her own faithful heart. She could not 

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pain the others with the weight of her terrible woe, 
and they wondered now at the severity of her penance ; 
but they thought she craved some great gift of the gods, 
and they could not deny her wish. 

The fateful day dawned at last and found her weak 
and faint, but she would not taste of food. Only one 
plea she made — that she might go with Satyavan when 
he went out into the forest to cut the sacred wood for 
the evening sacrifice. 

Tenderly he remonstrated, ^^The way is rough and 
thy little feet are tender ; the mother^s side is a safer 
place for thee.^^ But still she pleaded, ^^I cannot let 
thee go unless I am with thee,^^ and Satyavan looked 
down into the depths of her tearful eyes, tflat looked 
back love and tenderness into his ov/n. Then said he, 
" Surely thou shalt go and make the dark wood glad 
with thy sweet presence." 

Cheerily he set out ax in hand through the wilder- 
ness, making a path for the little feet that patiently 
followed his own. The morning was wondrously bright ; 
flower-laden trees stood here and there along the path- 
way; gigantic climbers grew in the thickets in great 
profusion, interlacing the smaller trees and even piling 
their gorgeous blossoms upon their heads. The sunlight 
lay upon the surface of the little lake near their home, 
and bright water birds hovered above the reeds and 
rushes, or settled down amidst the white lilies and fra- 
grant lotus cups near the water^s edge. Away in the 
distance the Himalayas lifted their snowy brows into 
the blue heavens and reflected the sun's rays from their 
icy peaks. *^ Is it not beautiful ? ^' said Satyavan, 
pointing to the landscape around him, or directing her 

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attention to the strange wild flowers springing from the 
mosses at their feet. And smiling the little wife re- 
plied, even while the fearful dread around her heart 
almost stayed its beating. 

Afar from home, they gathered fruits and flowers 
for the evening sacrifice, and all the while the anxious 
wife watched with aching heart every look and motion 
of her lord. He struck the tree to gather sacred wood, 
and blow after blow of his ax echoed through the forest. 
At last he reeled in sudden pain and cried, ^* I cannot 
work ; ^' then falling at her feet he fainted there. 
Quickly the beloved head was laid upon her lap, and 
eagerly she strove by chafing the temples and tired 
hands to bring the life tide back. She knew it was 
the day of fate, but still she could not yield. 

Suddenly at her side she saw a fearful shape, that 
was neither god nor man — tall and dark with visage 
grim, he looked down pitilessly upon them both. His 
garments were crimson as if with blood ; his cruel eyes 
glowed like burning coals in their deep sockets. In 
one hand he bore a long black noose and bent over 
Satyavan. As the spectre leaned above her husband, 
the trembling princess laid the head tenderly upon the 
ground, and springing up reverently folded her hands 
in supplication, and prayed to know who he was and 
why he came. He answered, ^^I am Yama, the god of 
death, and I am come to bear away the soul of Satya- 
van. '^ ^^But,^' pleaded the wife, ^^^tis thy messengers 
that bear away the souls of men. Why is it, mighty 
chief, that thou hast come ?^' ^^ Because Prince Satya- 
van was the grandest, noblest of his race,^' replied the 
god, **and none save Yama's self was worthy to bear 

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his soul away/^ and bending lower still he fitted the 
dreadful noose and drew out the soul of Satyavan ;* 
then silently he strode away toward the southland 
with his prize, leaving the poor body pale and cold, 
with life and grace and beauty gone. 

But the stricken princess followed him. With her 
hands folded in supplication she hastened on behind 
this fearful King of Death. At last he turned. '' Go 
back/^ said he, ^^why dost thou follow in my steps? 
No mortal e'er has dared to come whither I shall go. 
Go back and perform the funeral rites for thy dead 

But she replied : *^ Wherever my lord is borne, 
there I shall surely go ; he is my life, my all ; I cannot 
leave him, and I must go with thee. By reason of my 
wifely love thou wilt let me come." And still she fol- 
lowed on until the King of Death himself felt pity for 
the faithful wife, and turning back he said : ^^ Return, 
my child, to life and health. Thy wifely love is good, 
but the kingdom of Yama is not the place for thee. 
Still, I will grant thee any boon that thou dost crave, 
except this life that I am bearing away." Then said 
Savitri, ^^Let the blind and banished king, my hus- 
band's father, have both his sight and throne restored." 
'^It shall be so," returned the god. "I grant thee 
this because of thy purity and fidelity ; but now turn 
back ; our way is long and dark, thy little feet are 
already weary, and thou wilt die upon the road." 

^^I am not weary," said Savitri, "I cannot tire 

1 According to Hindu theology the soul of a dead man Is about the 
size of the human thumb. At death a hole should be dug northeastward 
of the fire where the soul can wait until the gross body is burned, and 
then emerging be carried with the smoke to heaven. 

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while I am near to Satyavftn. Wherever he is borne, 
there the loyal wife must go/' And the tireless feet 
toiled patiently on behind the King of Death until he 
turned again and said : ** Darkness is coming on^ soon 
thou canst not find thy way alone. I will give to thee 
another boon — anything except this life, and then thou 
must return/' Quickly the princess thought of her 
own sire, whose only child now followed Death — 
thought of his lonely home and coming age, and she 
said, ^^6ive to my father princely sons to bear his 
royal name. This is the boon I crave, oh, mighty 
one.'' ^^So shall it be," returned the king, "and now 
I have granted thy wishes, go back to life and light." 
But she only answered plaintively, *^ I cannot go, great 
king. I cannot leave my lord. Thou hast taken him 
and my heart is in thy hand. I must surely come 
with thee." 

Darkness came slowly down in the dense forest, and 
her tender feet were torn with thorns and cut with the 
sharp stones of the rugged path. Hungry wolves 
and jackals pressed around her, while night birds 
spread their black wings above her and startled the 
silence with their cries. Trembling with terror and 
faint with grief and hunger, she still pursued her way. 
Her tear-blinded eyes could no longer see the terrible 
shape she followed, but she heard his footfalls and 
almost felt his fearful strides, for it seemed that every 
step came down upon her bleeding heart. 

At last they came to a cavern, dark and damp as 
death itself, and here again Yama turned upon the 
pitiful figure in the darkness behind him, and this 
time he fiercely demanded, "Art thou still upon my 

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track ? If thou wert not so true and good, I would 
take thee in my arms, and my worms should feed upon 
thy beauty; but thou art truth itself, and I will give 
to thee, poor child, one more boon. In pity for thy 
grief I will give thee anything thou wilt — except this 
life within my hand/' Then answered Savitri, ^^ Give 
me children — the sons of Satyavan. Let me bear to 
him brave, loyal heirs of his goodness and his truth/' 

Death grimly smiled. Should he be conquered yet 
by this little Hindu wife? But he answered: ^'Yama 
hath promised thee, and I must grant thee even this.'' 
Then with rapid strides he entered the great vault of 
the cavern, while the startled bats and owls flapped 
their dark wings and made the place more hideous 
with their cries. But still he heard the patter of 
patient feet behind him, and his burning eyeballs 
blazed in the darkness upon poor Savitri. 

*^Go back," he said. *'Thou shalt return; I will 
bear no longer with thy persistent following!" ^'l 
would go back, oh, mighty Yama, if I could," wailed 
the weary wife, " but in your hands you carry my own 
life. 'Tis only my helpless frame that follows thee, 
and now I am so weak with grief and fear that I 
must come nearer to Satyavan ; " and the tired head 
drooped upon the dark, cold hand of Death, close to 
the life she craved. The pitiless king felt the soft 
touch of tear-wet cheeks and clinging hair, and again 
his cruel heart was softened by her faithful love. 
"Thou art innocence itself, and tenderness and truth," 
said Yama. "Thou hast taught me lessons new of 
woman's fidelity. Ask any boon thou wilt, and it 
shall be thine." 

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Then at his feet she fell in grateful joy and ten- 
derly caressed them. '* This time, oh, king,^^ she cried, 
^Hhou hast excepted nothing, and I ask not wealth, nor 
throne, nor heaven itself. I crave my heart, my life — 
give me my Satyavan!^' The fire in his eyes beamed 
more softly, and the light in them was almost tender 
as he said : ^* Fair queen, thou art the brightest gem 
of womankind. Here, take thy Satyavan. Saved by 
his peerless wife, he long shall live and reign with 
her, and his line shall be upheld by princely sons who 
shall call thee mother. Go now, my child, time hasteth, 
and long hast thou been with me.^^ Then turning 
gloomily away, he went down — down into the darkness 
of the cavern. But the glad wife, holding her precious 
treasure close to her heart, retraced her steps back 
through the darkness of cavern and wood, her torn feet 
climbing the ascending pathway, fearing nothing, know- 
ing nothing, save that in her arms she carried her be- 

It was dark in the forest, where the dense foliage 
almost shut out the light of noontime, but it was 
lighter here where only little groves of sacred fig trees 
and thickets of flowering shrubs obscured the vision, 
and traces of gold and crimson still lingered round the 
setting sun. Thankful for the light, she hastened to 
where the body lay, and raising the head pressed it 
tenderly again to her bosom, and gently wooed the 
life tide back to heart and pulse. Soft and warm his 
hand became, and his lips moved to speak a tender 
word that had died upon them when Yama came. 
The evening light was gone, and darkness came down 
with velvet touch around them, but the glorious stars 

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came out and the southern constellations flashed like 
crown jewels above the living prince and his loyal 

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T EAVING the Maha-bharata proper, we will now 
-^-^ turn our attention to the Bhagavad-gita, which 
although it now forms a part of the great Epic is inde- 
pendent of it. 

While the armies of the great war were drawn up 
in close proximity to each other, impatiently awaiting 
the order to charge, Krishna is represented as deliver- 
ing to Arjuna a long philosophical and religious dis- 
course, called the Bhagavad-glta, or "Divine Song.^^ 

It is clearly an interpolation, like many others^ 
which have been placed in the Maha-bharata by the 
more modern compilers, and scholars can only wonder 
why the Brahmans who placed it in the text could not 
see the impropriety of throwing in a long discourse of 

1 The charioteer of the blind Maharaja is represented as entertaining his 
master during the exciting battle— not by a description of the fight, but with 
a long dissertation upon the geography of the earth, and especially of India. 
The venerable Bhishma, after receiving a mortal wound, is not permitted to 
die, but must lie for many weeks upon the points of upturned arrows, in 
order to deliver to the king a lengthy speech on the duties of rajas, etc. 
No effort has been spared by the later compilers to convert the story of the 
great war into a medium for Brahmanical teaching, and sometimes their 
interpolations are so skilfully interwoven with the older text that it is almost 
impossible to separate them. 

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eighteen chapters on the very eve of an exciting battle. 
Only the vivid imagination of a Hindu would guess 
that any man, god, or demon would, when drawn up 
in his chariot, between the combatants, spend the en- 
tire day in philosophical discourse when his impatient 
troops were marshaled in battle array, with drums beat- 
ing, banners flying, and soldiers shouting, while even 
the horses were apparently eager for the fray, and, 
indeed, according to Telang, after the signal had been 
given and the battle had actually begun. 


The author of this work is unknown, but he was 
evidently a Brahman, and nominally a Vaishnava. It 
was inserted into the Mahti-bharata at a comparatively 
early period, but there is considerable discussion among 
scholars in reference to its exact age. Dr. Burr says 
that ^^at the time of its first translation into English 
an immense antiquity was claimed for the Bhagavad- 
gita, but it is now generally admitted to be an inter- 
polation into the Maha-bharata, and to have been pro- 
duced subsequently to the rise, not only of Christianity, 
but of Krishnaism itself. ^^ Richard Collins, in a paper 
read before the Philosophical Society of Great Britain, 
takes the position that the Bhagavad-gita was written 
after the third century of the Christian era. Prof. 
Max Miiller places it in what he terms the ^'.Renais- 
sance period of Indian Literature, '* the commencement 
of which he gives at about A. D. 300, while Sir 
Monier Williams speaks of it as being "a compara- 
tively modern episode of the Maha-bharata,^^ and 
assigns the author to one of the early centuries of 

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the Christian era. We might also quote Prof. Weber, 
of Berlin, Prof. Lassen, and Dr. Lorinser, who as- 
sign it to about the third century A. D. ; but a 
repetition of authorities is useless, as it is abun- 
dantly proved to belong to the Christian era. 


This work appears to belong in Sanskrit literature 
to the family of TJpanishads. Its philosophy, its 
strong pantheism and radical doctrines of transmigra- 
tion, and its literary style all point to the one conclu- 
sion that it has been derived largely from the TJpan- 
ishads. This view is well supported by the version of 
the 6lta which was published in Bombay in 1782. 
There is a stanza in this edition which says : ^^ The 
TJpanishads are the cows ; Krishna, the milkman ; Ar- 
juna, the calf; and the milk is the nectar-like Gita.'* 
This statement sufficiently illustrates the tradition 
among the Hindus that the work is derived largely 
from the ancient TJpanishads, and contains the essence 
of their teaching.* 


begins with the regrets of Arjuna at seeing his breth- 
ren arrayed in lines of battle, waiting the word of 
command to enter upon a fratricidal war. Addressing 
his charioteer, Krishna, he says : 

^^ Beholding these my relatives arrayed 
Before my eyes in serried line of battle 

1 The native scholar Kashinath Trimbak Telang Is naturally inclined to 
think that the Gita may have been a part of the original Maha-bharata, 
although he says *' it is with a feeling of painful diffidence that we express 
ourselves regarding the soundness of any conclusion whatever." (Int. 
Bhagavad-gita, p. 5.) 

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Preparing for the deadly fray, my limbs 

Are all relaxed, my blood dries up, a tremor 

Palsies my frame, the hairs upon my skin 

Bristle with horror. All my body burns 

As if with fever, and my mind whirls round 

So that I cannot stand upright nor hold 

The bow, Gan^iva, slipping from my hand. 

I cannot — will not — fight. mighty Krishna, 

I seek not victory, I seek no kingdom. 

What shall we do with royal pomp and power. 

What with enjoyments or" with life itself. 

When we have slaughtered all our kindred here?"^ 

Krishna makes a long reply to this, in which he 
exhorts Arjuna to do his duty as a soldier, regardless 
of results. He repeatedly urges him to fight without 
wasting regret over the necessary slaughter of his rela- 

"Better to do the duty of one^s caste, 
Though bad and ill-performed and fraught with evil. 
Than undertake the business of another. 
However good it. be. For better far 
Abandon life at once than not fulfil 
One^s own appointed work ; another^s duty 
Brings danger to the man who meddles with it. 
Perfection is alone attained by him 
Who swerves not from the business of his caste."'* 

The imperative duty of loyalty to one's caste, which 
is here inculcated, is repeated in various portions of 
the poem. 

I WlUlams' trans. Ind. Wis., p. 139. aind. Wis. p., 140. 

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The first section of the Bhagavad-gita, or Divine 
Song, dwells chiefly on the Yoga system, or intense 
concentration of the mind upon one subject, claiming 
that the end and aim of asceticism is to enable man 
to embrace the doctrine of pantheism and realize that 
God is everything and everything is God. 

Arjuna is exhorted to fulfil the duties of his war- 
rior caste, and proceed to kill his relatives, on the 
ground that death is merely a transmigration from one 
form to another. 

**The wise grieve not for the departed, nor for those 
who yet survive. 

Ne'er was the time when I was not, nor thou, nor 
yonder chiefs, and ne'er 

Shall be the time when all of us shall be not. As the 
embodied soul 

In this corporeal frame moves swiftly on through boy- 
hood, youth, and age. 

So will it pass through other forms hereafter — be not 
grieved thereat. 

The man whom pain and pleasure, heat and cold af- 
fect not, he is fit 

For immortality. Whatever is not cannot be ; what- 
ever is 

Can never cease to be. . . . Know this — the Being 
that spread this universe 

Is indestructible. Who can destroy the Indestructible? 

These bodies that enclose the everlasting soul, inscrut- 

Immortal, have an end ; but he who thinks the soul 
can be destroyed. 

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And he who deems it a destroyer, are alike mistaken; 

Kills not, and is not killed ; it is not born, nor doth 

it ever die; 
It has no past nor future — unproduced, unchanging, 

infinite; he 
Who knows it fixed, unborn, imperishable, indissoluble, 
How can that man destroy another, or extinguish 

aught below? 
As men abandon old and threadbare clothes to put on 

others new. 
So casts the embodied soul its worn-out frame to enter 

other forms. 
No dart can pierce it ; flame cannot consume it ; water 

wets it not. 
Nor scorching breezes dry it — indestructible, incapable 
Of heat or moisture or aridity, eternal, all-pervading. 
Steadfast, immovable, perpetual, yet imperceptible. 
Incomprehensible, unfading, deathless, unimaginable/^^ 

The transmigration of souls is here clearly taught. 
Krishna in another paragraph charges Arjuna with 
cowardice, and asks : "How comes it that this delu- 
sion which excludes from heaven and occasions infamy, 
has overtaken you in this place of peril ? Be not 
effeminate .... It is not worthy of you. Cast 
off this base weakness of heart and arise. ^^ 

Arjuna still pleading the humane side of the ques- 
tion, Krishna repeatedly teaches that the slaying of 
his relatives is an innocent act, from the fact that the 
soul cannot die. *^The destruction of that inexhaust- 

i InO. Wis., p. 141. 

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ible principle none can bring about, therefore, do en- 
gage in battle, son of Bharata .... for to 
one that is born death is certain, and to one that dies 
birth is certain .... therefore you ought not 
to grieve for any being. You ought not to falter, for 
there is nothing better for one of the warrior caste 
than a righteous battle — an open door to heaven. But 
if you will not fight this righteous battle, then you 
will have abandoned your own duty and your fame, 
and will incur sin. All beings, too, will tell of your 
everlasting infamy, and to one who has been honored 
infamy is a greater evil than death. ^^^ 


The second division of the poem teaches the pan- 
theistic doctrines of the Vedanta more directly, 
Krishna in the plainest language claiming adoration 
as being one with the great universal spirit pervad- 
ing, and also constituting, the universe. For the 
twofold purpose of enforcing his arguments and com- 
pelling Arjuna to fight, and also to glorify himself, 
Krishna proceeds as follows: '^I have passed through 
many births, Arjuna ! and you also. I know them 
all, but you do not know them. Even though I am 
unborn and inexhaustible in my essence; even though 
I am lord of all beings, still I take up the control 
of my own nature and am born by means of my 
delusive power. Whensoever piety languishes and im- 
piety is in the ascendant, I create myself. I am 
born age after age for the protection of the good ; 
for the destruction of evil-doers and the establishment 

1 See Bhagavad-gita, Telang's trans., p. 46, 

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of piety .... I am the sacred verse. I, too, 
am the sacrificial butter, and I the fire, I the offering. 
I am the father of this universe; the mother, the 
creator, the grandsire ; the thing to be known, the 
means of sanctification, the syllable Om ; * . . . the 
goal, the sustainer, the lord, the supervisor, residence, 
the asylum, the friend, the source, receptacle, and 
the inexhaustible seed I am the thun- 
derbolt among weapons; the wish-giving cow among 

cows Among serpents I am Vasuki ; among 

N/iga snakes I am Ananta Among demons, 

too, I am Pralhada I am the wind among 

those that blow.'^^ There are many pages of the 
wildest self-praise, after which Krishna informs Arjuna 
that ^Uhere is no end to my divine emanations,'^ the 
extent of which has been only partially described. 


lie then exhibited himself in his divine form, hav- 
ing many eyes and mouths and faces and weapons. 
Arjuna stood before him with bowed head, his hair 
standing on end, and with joined hands he said : 
" Oh, god ! I see your body, the gods, as also all the 
groups of various beings: and the lord Brahman 
seated on his lotus seat, and all the sages and celes- 
tial snakes, I see you, who are of countless forms, 
possessed of many arms, stomachs, mouths, and eyes 
on all sides. And, oh, lord of the universe ! oh, you 
of all forms ! I do not see your end, or middle, or 

1 The syllable Om is said to comprise all the deities of heaven, earth, and 

2 Bhagavad-gita, Telang's trans., pp. 58-89. 

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'^I see you bearing a coronet and a mace and a 
discus — a mass of glory, brilliant on all sides, diffi- 
cult to look at, having on all sides the effulgence of 

a blazing fire or sun, and indefinable I 

see you void of beginning, middle, end — of infinite 
power; of unnumbered arms, having the sun and 
moon for eyes; having a mouth like a blazing fire, 
and heating the universe with your radiance. For 
this space between heaven and earth, and all the 
quarters are pervaded by you alone. Looking at 
this wonderful and terrible form of yours, oh, high- 
souled one ! the three worlds are affrighted. For here 

these groups of gods are entering into you 

Seeing your mighty form, with many mouths and 
eyes; with many arms, thighs, and feet; with many 
stomachs, and fearful with many jaws, all people, and 
I likewise, are much alarmed, oh, you of mighty arms ! 
Seeing you, oh, Vishnu ! touching the skies, radiant, 
possessed of many hues, with a gaping mouth and 
with large blazing eyes, I am much alarmed in my 
inmost self, and feel no courage, no tranquillity. 

"Seeing your mouths, terrible by reason of the 
jaws and resembling the fire of destruction, I cannot 
recognize the various directions; I feel no comfort. 
Be gracious, oh, lord of gods ! who pervadest the uni- 
verse. And all these sons of Dhrita-rashtra, together 
with all the bands of kings and Brahmans, and Drona, 
and this charioteer^s son likewise, together with our 
principal warriors also, are rapidly entering your 
mouths, fearful and horrified by reason of the rug- 
gedness and distortion of your face and jaws. And 
some with their heads smashed are seen to be stuck 

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in the spaces between the teeth. As the many rapid 
currents of a river's waters run towards the sea alone, 
so do these heroes of the human world enter your 
mouths blazing all around. As butterflies with in- 
creased velocity enter a blazing fire to their destruc- 
tion, so, too, do these people enter your mouths, with 
increased velocity only to their destruction. Swallow- 
ing all these people, you are licking them over and 
over again from all sides with your blazing mouths. 
Your fierce splendors, oh, Vishnu ! filling the whole 
universe with their effulgence, are heating it. Tell 

me who you are in this fierce form Be 

gracious ! I wish to know you, primeval one, for I 
do not understand your actions.'' 

Then Krishna said : '^1 am death, the destroyer 
of worlds, fully developed, and I am now active about 
the overthrow of the worlds. Even without you, the 
warriors standing in the adverse hosts shall cease to 
be. Therefore, be up ; obtain glory, and, vanquish- 
ing your foes, enjoy a prosperous kingdom. All these 
have been already killed by me. Be only the instru- 
ment. Drona and Bhishma and other valiant war- 
riors whom I have killed do you kill. Be not alarmed. 
Do fight, and in the battle you will conquer your 

Arjuna stood in his chariot, clad in golden armor 
and wearing the bright coronet which had been given 
him by the god Indra. On either side of him were 
the opposing armies, while arrows were flying through 
the air. But the hero of the great war, ^^ trembling, 
with joined hands, bowed down and sorely afraid, and 

1 Bhagavad-gita, Telang's trans., pp. 03-190. 

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with throat choked up again spoke to Krishna after 
saluting him/' He still pleaded the humane side of 
the question, but in vain. 

Then follow many pages of questions and long dis- 
I courses on the spiritual phases of Brahmanical teach- 
ing, at the end of which Arjuna decides to fight and 
declares that he is ready to do the bidding of Krishna, 
and thereupon enters the battle. 

Thus it will be seen that the ^^ Divine Song^^ is 
quite foreign to the style and also to the subject mat- 
ter of the Maha-bharata, so much so, indeed, that Sir 
Monier Williams claims that its proper place in the 
arrangement of Sanskrit literature would be at the 
close of the subject of philosophy. It contains many 
sentiments which have evidently been borrowed from 
the TJpanishads, and like some of the more modern 
writings of this class the Bhagavad-gita is largely an 
effort to reconcile the various systems of philosophy 
by combining them with one another. 

The next important division of Sanskrit literature 
which claims our attention, is the Puranas. These 
works are still later and belong to mediaeval times, but 
they are important as showing the development of 
Krishna worship. It is claimed that they were de- 
signed to teach the doctrines of Hinduism in their 
simplest form. 

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AMONG the later forms of Hindu literature are 
the Puranas, which present a comparatively 
modern field for investigation. They are eighteen in 
number, besides several smaller productions of a sim- 
ilar kind called Upa or Minor Puranas, the general 
character of which is very much like the larger works. 

The Maha or principal Puranas contain about six- 
teen hundred thousand lines, and when we consider 
that each minor work also contains many chapters, we 
realize something of the labor required to examine, 
index, and translate this enormous mass of literature. 

The Hindus themselves claim (in the Padma Pu- 
rana), that these books "consisted originally of one 


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thousand million stanzas, but four hundred thousand 
of them were thought sufficient for the instruction of 
man, the rest being preserved by the gods/' These 
four hundred thousand stanzas, however, are equal to 
sixteen hundred thousand lines, and the student cer- 
tainly has reason to be grateful that the gods kept the 
greater portion of this literature for their own private 

The theology and cosmogony of these books are 
largely drawn from the earlier writings ; the doctrines 
which they teach, the institutions which they describe, 
and a part of the legends which they relate belong 
to a period long prior to their own compilation. 


The name Purana signifies old traditional story. 
These narratives are said to have been compiled by 
Krishna-dvaipfiyana (the dark-colored and island born), 
the arranger of the Vedas and the Maha-bharata. 
The object of their compilation seems to have been 
the checking of the tide of Buddhism by stimulating 
the worship of Vishnu and Siva. In the Maha-bha- 
rata these deities had been regarded as but little more 
than great heroes, while in the Puranas they are rep- 
resented as rival gods. 

This department of Sanskrit literature claims to 
teach mythology and cosmogony, geography and as- 
tronomy, chronology and grammar, and sometimes 
even anatomy and medicine, as well as to give the 
genealogies of kings; but the main object is evidently 
the exaltation of Brahma, -Vishnu and Siva, in their 

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various manifestations. The Puranas are sometimes 
called a fifth Veda, having been designed to teach the 
Vedic doctrines to women and the lower caste men, 
who cannot understand the more complicated works. 


The pantheism of the Puranas is one of their in- 
variable characteristics, but the particular divinity who 
is at once the source, the substance and the absorber 
of all things, varies according to the individual choice 
of the worshiper. According to Sanskrit writers, these 
books treat of the "creation and renovation of the 
universe, the division of time, the institutes of law 
and religion, the genealogy of the patriarchal families, 
and the dynasties of kings. ^' The historians were 
eager, therefore, to learn their contents. 

Sir William Jones and others began the Herculean 
task by the employment of Hindu professors, or pan- 
dits, to extract such passages as seemed most likely 
to give the information sought; but the pandits 
themselves were not very familiar with the Puranas, 
and the extracts being necessarily left to their choice, 
European scholars had no means of knowing whether 
they had made wise selections or not. Another diffi- 
culty was the tendency on the part of the pandits to 
furnish the matter which was described and paid for, 
whether it could be found in their sacred books or 

A good illustration of the risk incurred by Euro- 
pean scholars in this kind of second-hand study is the 
well-known case of Lieut. Wilford, who was so cun- 
ningly deceived by the pandits (see page 5), and the 

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meet charitable conclnsion that one can come to in 
the matter is that M. Jacolliot was yictimized in the 
same way. Our translators soon recognized the fact 
that there was only one way to arrive at the truth, 
and the close, earnest work of many years has been 
productive of magnificent results. 

It is true that so far aa chronology and direct his- 
torical statements are concerned the Puranas are of 
little or no value, but their myths and legends form 
correct pictures of the times to which they belong^. 
They give us a view of the mythology and religion of 
this peculiar people, and indirectly reveal much of 
their true history. They were probably at first the 
traditionary tales of the poets, who were at once the 
eulogists and historians of the family. But with the 
genealogies many myths were blended, and these ma- 
terials were woven into connected form by later writ- 
ers. To the mythology, also, systems of cosmogony, 
geography and astronomy were added. After this the 
contending sects added to them a mass of absurd fic- 
tions, calculated to glorify Krishna, Siva, or any other 
deity who happened to be the favorite of the writer. 


The Puranas are the work of different generations 
and of varied circumstances, the nature of which must 
be conjectured from internal evidence. Probably none 
of them assumed the form in which we find them 
earlier than the time of Sankara A6arya, who flour- 
ished about the eighth or ninth century. Of the 
Vaishnava teachers, Ramanuja lived in the twelfth 
century, Madhwacharya in the thirteenth, and Val- 

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labha in the sixteenth, and the different Puranas 
seem to have accompanied or followed the innovations 
of these men, and to have advocated the doctrines 
they taught. ^ 

They are acknowledged by all scholars to be the 
most modern of the sacred books. Says Wilson: "T 
believe the oldest of them not to be anterior to the 
eighth or ninth century of our era, and the most re- 
cent of them to be not more than three or four cen- 
turies old.^^^ Sir Monier Williams says: ^^The oldest 
we possess can scarcely date from a period more re- 
mote than the sixth or seventh century of our era.^^' 


is a voluminous work, consisting of sixteen thousand 
three hundred and seventy-four stanzas, or more than 
the Iliad and Odyssey combined. It is a supplement to 
the Maha-bharata. "But,'* says Wilson, /^it may be 
more accurately ranked with the Puranic compilations 
of least authenticity and latest origin.^' It is chiefly 
occupied with the adventures of Krishna, but it 
records the particulars of the creation of the world 
and the dynasties of kings. The compilation is care- 
less and inaccurate, but has been carefully translated 
into French by M. A. Langlois. It represents Krishna 
as frightening away all the inhabitants of Vraja by 
converting the hairs of liis body into hundreds of 
wolves to harass and alarm them. 

It recounts the story of the protection of the cow- 
herds in a storm by Krishna, who lifted a mountain 

iVish. Pur. Int., p. 10. 2 Rel. of Hin., Vol. II, p. 68. 3 Ind. Wis., p. 498. 

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and held it over their heads until the storm passed 
over. This narrative is repeated with some variations 
in several of the Puranas. In the Bhagavata he is rep- , 
resented as protecting the gopis from the wrath, of 
Indra by holding the elevated mountain on his finger. 
It appears from this Purana that Indra was enraged 
with the gopis and tried to destroy them with a 
deluge on account of their love for Krishna^ who 
spent his time with them and finally married a 
thousand of them. 

The Hari-van6a also contains an epitome of the 
Ramayana and many other legends, which are repeated 
with more or less variation in the different Puranas.* 


The greater portion of this work is devoted to 
legendary and local descriptions of the greatness and 
sanctity of particular temples and individual deities. 
It treats especially of the holiness of XJtkala, the 
country which includes the low range of sand hills, 
where stands the celebrated temple of Jagan-nath. 
It also gives due honor to the worship of the sun 
and of Mahades. 

The adoration of Vishnu as Jagan-nath began to 
flourish in its greatest vigor after the twelfth cen- 
tury of the Christian era. The worship of the sun 
is also comparatively modern, the great temple known 
as the Black Pagoda being built A. D. 1241. The 
internal evidence which the work presents therefore 
makes it very probable that the Brahma-purana was 

1 Unless otherwise indicated extracts from these works will be made from 
Wilson's translations. 

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composed in the fourteenth or fifteenth century after 
Christ. It must have been after the worship of 
Jagan-nath predominated, and before Siva and the 
worship of the sun had fallen into disrepute. 


"That which contains an account of the time 
when the world was a golden lotus (padma) and of 
all the occurrences of that time is therefore called 
Padma by the wise.^^ It treats of the primary crea- 
tion by means of the cosmic egg, as in Manu ; the 
fanciful formation and divisions of the earth; the 
genealogies of princes; it also explains the means by 
which moksha, or final emancipation from conscious 
existence, may be attained. All of these subjects are 
mingled with myths and legends innumerable, be- 
sides an opitome of the Ramayana, and many other 
stories belonging to the earlier Hindu literature. 

It admonishes the worship of Bali on the first of 
the moon's increase. It inculcates the worship of 
Krishna as Gopala, the cowherd. Considerable space 
is also devoted to Radha, the favorite mistress of 
Krishna, and the holiness of the forest which was the 
favorite haunt of Krishna and Rtidha. According to 
Wilson, the fifteenth century of the Christian era is 
the highest antiquity that this work can claim. 


This work contains only about seven thousand 
stanzas, although it is claimed to be much larger. 
There are at least seven copies of it extant, and in 
none of them is there anything to indicate that any 

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portion is wanting. It was evidently written after 
the Gnpta kings^ who reigned in the seventh cen- 
tury, as it makes an historical mention of them. 
It also alludes to the Bauddhas, who were in existence 
as late as the twelfth century. 

These and other facts prove the compilation of 
this work to have taken place somewhere between 
the seventh and twelfth centuries, and the approxi- 
mate date is placed by Wilson at A. D. 1045. 
Being devoted to Vishnu, it represents him as the 
Supreme God. lie is spoken of as purusha (spirit), 
pradhana (crude matter), and vyakta (visible form). 

The course of elementary creation in the Vishnu- 
purana, as well as in the others, appears to be taken 
largely from the Sankhya philosophy, which was 
the doctrine of evolution as believed and taught bj 
a certain school of Hindu philosophers more than 
two thousand years ago. This system claims that 
pure spirit cannot originate in impure matter, and 
denies that anything can be produced out of nothing. 

The following aphorisms contain a brief exposition 
of its doctrines. ^^ There cannot be the production of 
something out of nothing, that which is not cannot be 
developed into that which is. The production of what 
does not already exist (potentially) is impossible, as a 
horn on a man ; because there must of necessity be a 
material out of which a product is developed ; and 
because everything cannot occur everywhere at all 
times, and because anything possible must be pro- 
duced from something competent to produce it.^ Thus 

1 This Sankhya creed is highly suggestive of the doctrines of Epi- 
curus, as expounded by Lucretius, who argues that the world and other 

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curds come from milk, not water. A potter pro- 
duces a jar from clay, not from cloth. Production 
is only a manifestation of what previously existed/^* 
But in the Puranas the agency operating on passive 
matter is confusedly exhibited in consequence of the 
all prevailing doctrine of pantheism and the partial 
adoption of the Vedanta philosophy which is based 
upon pure pantheism. Its creed is simply stated 
in the Chandogya Upanishad as follows: "All this 
universe indeed is Brahma; from him does it pro- 
ceed ; into him it is dissolved. '^ The Vedanta system 
has some similarities to the idealism of Plato, and 
indeed the Hindu Vedantist fought the Sankhya 
theory of evolution very much as did the Grecian 
philosopher. It is in strict accordance with the Ve- 
danta philosophy and the Puranic doctrine of pan- 
theism that Vishnu is represented as being "the cause 
of creation, existence, and end of this world ; who is 
the root of the world and consists of the world. ^* 

The creation is referred to, as in the other Puranas, 
as coming from the egg which rested upon the bosom 
of the waters. This is a widely diffused opinion of 
antiquity,^ and it is supposed by Bryant and Faber that 
the cosmic egg so often alluded to represented the 
ark floating upon the water. The Vishnu-purana also 

material objects were formed by the coalescing of atoms and primordial 
seeds. The Epicurean theory was severely criticised by Cicero, who 
claimed that if a concourse of atoms could produce a world, it ought 
also to produce temples, houses, cities, and other things which are formed 
much more easily than worlds. (See De Natura Deorum, II, 87.) 

1 Ind. Wis., p. 89. 

2 Traces of this theory occur amongst the Syrians, Persians, and Egyp- 
tians; besides the Orphic egg amongst the Greeks and that described by 
Aristophanes, a part of the ceremony in the Dionysiaca consisted of the 
consecration of an egg, which according to Porphyry signified the world. 

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8{)eak8 of the successive creations so often alluded to, 
and the rej)OBe of the Supreme God during the in- 
tervals uj)on his mighty serpent couch in the midst 
of the deep. It also presents the raising of the earth 
from the water by the tusks of the great boar, and 
the churning of the sea of milk for the recovery of 
the lost ambrosia. It describes at great lengtli the 
various worlds, heavens, hells, and planetary spheres, 
and gives the same description of the seven circular 
continents and concentric oceans that is found in the 

It describes also the arrangement of the Vedas 
and Puranas by V^yasa, and gives the rules of caste, 
in which the Purana follows to a great extent the 
Code of Manu. Book IV. of this immense volume is 
occupied with lists of kings and dynasties. Book V. 
corresponds with Book X. of the Bhagavata-purana, 
and is devoted to a life of Krishna. Krishna is rep- 
resented as the eighth child of his mother (the first 
six having been the offspring of a demon) and as orig- 
inating in a black hair taken from the head of Vishnu. 
His mission is to destroy the demon Kansa, who tries 
to forestall him by killing him in his infancy. This 
is prevented, however, by his father, who carries him 
away in the night and exchanges him for another 
child. Book VI. describes the gradual deterioration of 
mankind during the four ages and the destruction of 
the world by fire and water at the end of a Kalpa. 


On the day of his birth the horizon was radiant 
with light and happiness, and the waves of the sea joined 

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their music with the songs of the spirits and nymphs 
of heaven, who danced with joy. The gods walking 
through the sky showered down flowers upon the earth 
and the holy fires glowed with gentler flame. 

As soon as the child was horn, with the complexion 
of lotus leaves, having four arms and the mystic mark 
upon his hreast, his father and mother implored him 
as a god to forego his four-armed shape, lest Kansa 
should know of his descent and slay him. 

Vasu-deva, taking the child, went out the same 
night into the darkness and rain and carried him to 
a place of safety, while ^esha, the many-headed ser- 
pent, followed the father, and spreading his hoods 
over them protected the infant from the rain. When 
they passed through the river, with its dangerous 
rapids and swift current, the waters were stilled and 
rose not above the knee of Vasu-deva. Coming to 
the bed of a sleeping mother, who had just been 
delivered of a daughter, he quickly exchanged the chil- 
dren, and taking the little girl hastened homeward. 
When the mother, Yasodfi, awoke and found her child 
(as she supposed) was a son as black as the dark 
leaves of the lotus, she was greatly rejoiced. 

The female infant was placed in the bed of Devaki, 
and the demon Kansa destroyed it, thereby releasing 
the goddess who had been born as the babe. Taunting 
him with his helplessness, and decorating herself with 
heavenly garlands, she vanished from his sight. King 
Kansa being greatly troubled, called his chiefs together, 
and issued a decree that every male child in whom 
were found signs of unusual vigor should be destroyed. 

Krishna is afterward represented as plunging boldly 

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into the kke of the aerpent king, and conqnering him 
br Betting hii« ff»ot upon the terrible head which had 
hitherto be^-n nnben«le<L The dying serpent feebly 
pleadd for mercy, and Krishna allows him to live, 
but commands him to depart immediately with all 
hitf family and followers into the sea. It wiD be ob- 
6erve<l that there are some resemblances to the goBpels 
in this Purana, which dates from the eleyenth centory 
of the Christian era. 


Acc*or<ling to this authority the first wife of Krishna 
was Rati ha ; afterward he married Jambavati^ the 
daughter of a bear. This marriage was the result of 
a terrible contest with the father of the bride. Krishna 
fought the bear twenty-one days and at last conquered 
him. The Ijear then exclaimed, *'Thou, mighty being, 
art surely invincible by all the demons and by the 
spirits of heaven, earth, and hell. Much less art thon 
to be vanquished by creatures in human shape, and 
si ill less by such as we who are born of the brute crea- 
tion." Then humbly prostrating himself at the feet of 
his conqueror, he presented to Krishna his daughter 
Jambavati as an offering suitable to a guest, and the 
bridegroom led her away in triumph.' Krishna then 
married three beautiful girls, and afterward espoused 
the two daughters of the king of Magadha. He also 
seized and carried off by violence the beautiful princess 

In Hindu mythology Eavana, the demon king of 
Ceylon, was born again as Sisu-pala, one of the char- 

1 Vish. Pur., p. 427, 

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acters of the Maha-bharata. He was betrothed to 
Ruminiki, but Krishna forcibly carried away the bride 
and made her his own. Afterward Bhishma declared 
that the usual prize awarded to the greatest and strong- 
est of their number was due to Krishna ; but ^isu-pala 
publicly objected to having the award made to a cow- 
herd, who was also a murderer, and after some bitter 
language on both sides Krishna "whirled his 6akra 
furiously at ^iSu-pala and severed his head from his 
body/^ He afterward married not only Euminiki, but 
also still later sixteen thousand and one hundred other 
wives at a single ceremony. We quote from the 
Vishnu- purana : "Sixteen thousand and one hundred 
was the number of the maidens (included in the last 
marriage), and into so many forms did the foe of 
Madhu (Krishna) multiply himself that every one of 
the damsels thought that he had wedded her in his 
single person, and the creator of the world — the as- 
sumer of universal shape — ^abode severally in the dwell- 
ing of each of these, his wives/^^ It is declared that 
these wives bore to Krishna one hundred and eighty' 
thousand sons, and the Bhagavata-purana gives the 
names of about eighty members of this numerous 


The Vishnu-purana agrees with the Maha-bharata 
concerning the principal incidents connected with the 
death of Krishna. The destruction of his tribe is re- 
counted, and also the particulars of the drunken melee 
in which the fratricidal Yiidavas slew each other. It 
is here again declared that Krishna was slain by the 

1 ViBh. Pur., p. 528. 

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arrow of a hunter who mistook him for a wild animal^ 
but an additional incident is given to the effect that 
Krishna was sitting with one foot resting upon his 
knots and the arrow entered the sole of his foot, which 
was the only vulnerable sj>ot upon his body. 

This Purana enumerates twenty-eight hells, one of 
them being called the Krishna, or black hell, which 
is reserved for sinners who live by fraud, or who tres- 
pass uj^on other people's lands. The book closes with a 
proj)hecy of the Kali age, when all evil shall be de- 


Saiva gives the genealogies of the patriarchs and 
descriptions of the universe, mingled with praises of 
Siva and the myths and legends of which he is the 
hero. It also teaches the efficacy of .Yoga* and the 
glories of Siva-pura, or the dwelling of Siva, with whom 
the yogi, or devotee, is to be united. 


is a work of powerful influence in India, controlling 
the opinions and feelings of the people more than any 
other of the Puranas. It is called Bhagavata, on ac- 
count of its being devoted to the glorification of 
Bhagavat or Vishnu. It gives a cosmogony which, 

1 The Yoga is considered a branch of the Sankhya system of phUoso- 
phy, but it appears really to be a sort of penance for the purpose of con- 
centrating thought with the greatest intensity upon the syllable Om, which 
is sometimes defined to be Brahma, and again, as the representative of all 
the gods of earth, air, and sky. The most unnatural and painful postures 
are assumed by devotees, and sometimes persisted in for years. It also 
Includes twistings and contortions of the limbs, suppressions of the breath, 
and utter absence of mind. The variety and intensity of the various 
forms of suffering which are self-inflicted upon the devotees, would sur- 
pass all credibility if they were not attested by trustworthy evidence. 

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although in most respects similar to that of the other 
Puranas, is more largely mixed with allegory and mys- 
ticism, deriving its tone more from the Vedanta than 
the Sankhya philosophy. It contains a variety of 
legends of a miscellaneous description intended to 
illustrate the merit of worshiping Vishnu. There is 
also an account of the deluge, in which Vishnu is 
represented as descending in the form of a fish to 
guide the ark. 

It narrates the history of Krishna in much' the 
same way that the Vishnu-purana does, and acknowl- 
edges its indebtedness to that work, showing conclusively 
that it is subsequent to the Vishnu-purana. The 
Bhagavata closes with a series of encomiums on its 
own sanctity and efficacy to salvation. Mr. Colebrooke 
says of the work: ''I am inclined to adopt an opin- 
ion supported by many learned Hindus, who consider 
the celebrated Sri Bhagavata as the work of a gram- 
marian (Vopadeva) supposed to have lived six hun- 
dred years ago.^'^ Prof. Wilson and other Orientalists 
agree with Colebrook in ascribing the Bhagavata to 


containing nine thousand verses, is ^^That Purana in 
which, commencing with the story of the birds that 
were acquainted with right and wrong, everything is 
narrated fully by Markan(Jeya as it is explained by 
the holy sages in reply to the questions of Muni.'^ 
The celestial birds (who were Brahmans in a previous 
birth), are represented as answering the following 

1 As. Res., Vol. 3, p. 467, 

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questions : '* Why was Vasu-deva bom as a mortal ? '^ 
'* How is it that DraupadI became the wife of the five 
Pan<Ju8?'* *'Why did Baladeva do penance for Brah- 
manicide?" and **Why were the children of Draupadi 
destroyed when they had Krishna and Arjuna to de- 
fend them?'' The account of the creation is also 
repeated by the birds. This Purana is not easily 
placed with any degree of certainty, but is supposed to 
belong to the ninth or tenth century. 


^he Agni or Agneya treats of primitive and subse- 
quent creations, the genealogies of demigods and 
kings, the reigns of the Manus, the histories of the 
royal dynasties, and other matters of a very different 
character. As it is evidently a compilation, its date is 
of very little importance. It is not unlikely, however, 
that chapters have been arbitrarily supplied during the 
last few centuries. For the Agni an ancient Purana 
called the Vayu is often substituted. 


The Vayu-purana is so named in consequence, it 
is said, of having been communicated by Vayu, the 
deity of the wind, to the assembled sages. It treats 
of the families of sages and kings, followed by a cos- 
mogony terminating with the destruction of the world 
at the end of each Kalpa. While it teaches the doc- 
trine of pantheism, it also allows to the Supreme Be- 
ing an existence separate from his works, although he 
appears to be without attributes. The astronomy of 
this Purana presents the relative sizes and situations 

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THE purInas. 369 

of the planets, with their cars and steeds and other 
appurtenances, revolving around the pole (to which 
they are attached by cords of * air) as the wheel turns 
on its pivot. Little information concerning its exact 
age is to be derived from internal evidence, but it is 
supposed to be one of the oldest of the Puranas. 


containing fourteen thousand five hundred stanzas, 
treats of the creation, repeating almost the very words 
of the first chapter of Manu, the rest of the work be- 
ing purely a manual of religious rites and ceremonials, 
although a few legends enliven the series of precepts. 
It is not very properly called a Purana, and was prob- 
ably written prior to the Mohammedan conquest. 


This is decidedly a sectarian work, and appears to 
have no other reason for its existence than to induce 
faith in Krishna and Kadha. It is of little value as 
collateral authority, and the most of its stories are too 
absurd for repetition. Krishna is here spoken of as 
"the sole existent and eternal being — the center of a 
luminous sphere of immeasurable extent and inconceiva- 
ble splendor. ^^ Vishnu is represented as coming from 
his right side and Siva from his left. Brahma, who is 
often spoken of as the Supreme God, is represented as 
springing from Krishna. All the gods and goddesses 
proceed from different parts of his person, and each 
of them at birth recites a short hymn or prayer in his 
honor. Brahma is represented as saying: 

" I adore Krishna, who is free from the three qual- 

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ities, the one imperishable Goviuda, who is invisible 
and void of form; who is visible and assumed the 
shape of a cowherd .... the lord of the mystic 
dance, and its performer, and the delighter in the 
graces of its evolutions.*' Kadha, his favorite wife, 
proceeds from his heart ; from the pores of her skin 
proceed three hundred million gopis or nymphs, while 
a like number of gopas, the swains of the nymphs, 
proceed from the pores of Krishna's skin, and the 
cows which these swains are to attend also issue from 
the pores of Krishna's skin. 

The twenty-eighth and twenty-ninth chapters are 
devoted to a description of Goloka, the heaven of 
Krishna. It is a sphere of light tenanted by gopTs, 
gopas and cows, the only human beings admitted be- 
ing the votaries of Krishna. The author sometimes 
describes Goloka as being round, and again speaks of 
it as a square. In one passage he gives it a diameter 
of thirty millions of yojanas, and in another he ex- 
tends its circumference to a thousand millions. In- 
deed, the compiler seems to have paid very little 
attention to the consistency of the narrative, assigning 
various origins to the same god or goddess. Thus, 
Sarasvati, the goddess of speech, is said in one para- 
graph to come out of the mouth of Krishna, and in 
another is represented as one of the subdivisions of 
Prakriti, and again is spoken of as issuing from the 
tongue of Lakshmi. These incoherencies are quite 
characteristic of this Purana, which is full of contra- 
dictory repetitions. 

According to this work the original and only cause 
of Krishna's incarnation was his love for Eadha, and 

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he came down to the world to be her lover. The in- 
cidents of Krishna's birth, as the eighth child of Vasu- 
deva and Devaki, are narrated in the usual manner; 
his infant exploits are also recited, and his marriage 
with Eadha is said to have been celebrated by the 
distribution of viands and treasures in large quantities. 
The incompatibility of such profusion with the finan- 
cial condition of his foster father Nanda, the cowherd, 
is apparently not noticed by the author, although the 
hero of the festivities is represented in the next chap- 
ter as stealing the curds, for which he is tied to a tree 
and whipped by his foster mother, Yasoda. Krishna is 
also represented as carrying off and hiding the clothes 
of the nymphs while they were bathing in the river. 
It is claimed in this Purana that when Vishnu 
boasted of being lord of all, he was swallowed by 
Krishna, all but his head, but was restored on recov- 
ering his senses. Krishna's marriage with other wives 
is also narrated. The circumstances of his death by 
a wound from a hunter, the destruction of his tribe, 
and the submersion of Dvaraka are also alluded to. 
This Purana is said to be so sacred that the attentive 
hearing of one quarter of a verse is equal in merit to 
the gift of the heaven of Krishna. Although it is 
differently classified it appears to be one of the last 
of the Puranas from its own avowal that it was in- 
tended to *^ clear up the discrepancies observable in 
these works.'' That it was compiled after the Moham- 
medan invasion is evident from the allusion that it 
makes to the supremacy of the Mleccha rulers, and 
the particular branch of the Hindu system which it 
advocates makes it very probable that it emanated 

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from a sect which originated aboat foar centuries ago 
with the Gosains. 


consists of eleven thousand stanzas^ and is said to have 
been originally composed by Brahma. In the account 
of creation as given by this Purana, Brahma and Vishnu 
are represented as fighting for the supremacy during 
the intervals of creation, but the great fiery Linga 
suddenly springs up and puts them both to shame, as 
after traveling upwards and downwards for a thousand 
years neither of them could find its beginning or 
ending. Upon the Linga the sacred syllable Om is 
visible, by which Brahma and Vishnu become en- 
lightened and acknowledge and eulogize the superior 
glory of Siva. Siva repeats the story of his incarna- 
tions (twenty-eight in number), intended doubtless to 
exceed in number the incarnations of Vishnu. The 
work is assigned to about the eighth or ninth century. 


is narrated by Vishnu, as Varaha (the boar), to the 
personified earth. Like the Linga-purana, this is a 
religious manual almost wholly occupied with forms 
of prayer and rules for devotional observances ad- 
dressed to Vishnu. There is no leaning to the par- 
ticular adoration of Krishna, and there are other indi- 
cations of its belonging to an earlier stage of Vishnu 


is '*that in which the six-faced deity (Skanda) has 
related the events of the Tatapursha Kalpa enlarged 

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with many tales/^ It is said to contain eighty-one 
thousand and one hundred stanzas. This Purana has 
no existence in a collected form, and the fragments 
in various parts of India which are affirmed to be 
portions of it aggregate a mass of stanzas even more 
formidable than has been enumerated. They contain 
minute descriptions of the temple of Siva, and a vast 
number of legends illustrating the holiness of Kasi. 
Other portions are devoted to the holiness of Urissa 
and other localities and temples. It is doubtful what 
proportion of these fragments properly belongs to the 


contains an account of the dwarf incarnation of Vish- 
nu and includes about seven thousand stanzas. It is 
largely devoted to the worship of the Linga and to 
the illustration of the sanctity of certain holy places. 
In the words of a distinguished Orientalist (Wilson) 
^' Its compilation may have amused the leisure of some 
Brahman of Benares three or four centuries B,go." 


is ^^ that in which Janarddana in the form of a tor- 
toise in the regions under the earth explained the ob- 
jects of life, duty, wealth, pleasure, and liberation.'^ 
The greater part of it inculcates the worship of Siva 
and Durga, although it is represented as being given 
by one of the incarnations of Vishnu. Its date can- 
not be very early, for it is avowedly posterior to the 
establishment of the Tantrika, the Satka and the Jain 
sects, and these were not known in the early centuries 
of our era. 

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This Pur&na, after the usual prologue, opens with 
the account of how the Matsya, or fish avatar of 
Vishnu, preserved a king named Manu with the seeds 
of all things in an ark from the waters of the great 
inundation, the story of the flood which was told in 
one of the Brahmanas, and later in the Maha-bha- 
rata, being substantially repeated here. The gen- 
ealogical chapters are much the same as those of the 
Vishnu-purana. The work has drawn largely from 
the Maha-bharata ; it also quotes the Padma-purana^ 
and is therefore subsequent to that work. 


The greater part of this document is devoted to the 
description of Vratas, or vows of self-restraint, of hol- 
idays, of sacred places dedicated to the sun, and to 
prayers addressed to the sun, to Siva, and to Vishnu. 
It contains also treatises on astrology, palmistry, and 
precious stones, and one still more extensive on medi- 
cine. There is nothing in this work to justify the 
name. Garuija is the eagle bird (half man) on which 
Vishnu rides, and it is possible that there is no genu- 
ine Garu(Ja-purana in existence. 


"That which has declared in twelve thousand two 
hundred verses the magnificence of the egg of Brahma, 
and in which an account of the future Kalpas is con- 
tained, is called the Brahman^a-purana, and was re- 
vealed by Brahma. '^ This Purana, like the Skanda, is 

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no longer procurable in a collected form, but is repre- 
sented by a variety of JTAandas professed to be derived 
from it. The facility which this state of things affords 
for imposition is very great, and the Skanda and the 
Brahman(Ja have for this reason sometimes been called 
'^the Puranas of thieves and impostors/' 

The mythology of the Puranas is much more devel- 
oped than that of the Maha-bharata, in which Vishnu 
and Siva are apparently regarded merely as great heroes, 
not having as yet developed into rival gods. Krishna, 
who was afterward made so prominent, is not even the 
hero of the Maha-bharata, although he appears as a 
great chieftain ; but as Prof. Lassen has shown, ^' The 
real worship of Krishna is not found before the fifth 
or sixth century. '^ In mediaeval times there was much 
sectarian feeling between the worshipers of Brahma, 
Vishnu, and Siva, each sect being jealous of its favor- 
ite system and devoted *o its favorite god. Hence, 
the Puranas which were compiled about this time were 
each of them devoted to the exaltation of the partic- 
ular deity who happened to be the favorite of the 
compiler. In modern times Siva is the most popular 
object of worship with Brahmans, while Krishna is 
the favorite god of the lower classes. We have here 
given the briefest possible resume of the contents and 
teachings of these productions of mediaeval times, and 
will now consider the mythological hero of the Pur- 
anas — the god Krishna. 

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TNTIMATELY connected with the Puranas is their 
J- hero, Krishna. The meaning of the word is 
"dark'' or "black/' and the frequency with which 
the name occurs in Hindu literature would seem 
to indicate that whenever a male child was bom 
with a complexion unusually dark he was named 
Krishna, or that in later times he was named for the 
popular god of the Puranas. 

The earliest mention of the name in the Rig-veda 
is where a hymn of adoration to Indra praises that 
god for having slain the wives of Krishna.^ 

Afterward the same god is said to have slain fifty 

1 Wilson's trans. Rig-veda Sanhita, Vol. I, page 280. 

Sanhita sometimes means collection, and the Rig-veda Sanhita con- 
taining one thousand and seventeen hymns, is the oldest and most im- 
portant collection of the early prayers, invocations and hymns of the 
Hindus. Sanhita may also mean the words of the Veda euphonically 
combined instead of separated as in the Pada text. Prof. Wilson's 
translation is based upon the commentary of the native scholar Sayana. 
It represents the long line of Vaidic tradition which the Hindus have pre- 
served, and shows the English reader what the natives suppose the Rig- 
veda to mean. See note to page 28. 


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thousand Krishnas/ all of whom were Rakshasas or 
demons. Indra is represented as the great protector 
of his votaries in battle. He defended his Aryan 
worshipers in all their conflicts ; he also punished for 
the benefit of man those who neglected religious 
rites. He (Indra) tore off the black skin of the ag- 
gressor as if burning with flame ; he utterly consumes 
him who delights in cruelty.^ 

*' Allusion/' says the translator, "is here made to 
the legend that an Asura, named Krishna the black, 
advanced with ten thousand followers to the banks 
of the Amsumati river, where he committed fearful 
devastation until he was defeated by Indra, who 
stripped him of his skin.'' " The swift moving Krish- 
na with ten thousand demons stood on the Amsumati ; 
by his might Indra caught him snorting in the water. 
He (Indra) smote his malicious bands. I have seen 
the swift moving demon lurking in an inaccessible 
place in the depths of the river. Indra with his ally 
smote the godless host as they drew near."* 

Krishna, a Rishi of Angira, is also spoken of in 
the Eig-veda Sanhita. In the Maha-bharata the name 
Krishna' is an epithet applied to the princess Drau- 
padi who married the five Pan<Javas. Krishna-dvai- 
payana (the dark-colored, island-born man) was the 
grandfather of the Kauravas who bore so important 
a part in the great war, and he is also said to be the 
arranger or editor of the Maha-bharata and the com- 
piler of the Puranas, the oldest of which are ascribed 

1 There is no mention in the Rig-veda of any god by this name. 

2 Vol. V, p. 192. 

8 The long mark on the final a, indicates the feminine form of the 

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to the sixth or seventh century of the Christian era. 
The Hindus have an easy method^ however, of dispos- 
ing of little chronological diflBculties of a few centuries 
by asserting that their heroes are bom again as men 
whenever their services are needed upon the earth. 
In the Ohandogya Upanishad we find a Krishna who 
was the son of Devaklputra, but of him nothing is 
known except that he was a pupil of Ghara. The 
name was also borne by a son of Havird-hana and by 
one of the Andhra princes. 

In the later forms of Hindu literature we find 
Krishna, the son of Vasu-deva* and Devaki, who 
figured as a great chieftain in the Maha-bharata, and 
during a large part of the Christian era has had divine 
honors paid to him. Krishna was also one of the 
names of Arjuna. In the Maha-bharata where the son 
of Drona is said to have entered the camp of the Pan- 
davas at night to avenge his father's death, his pro- 
gress was arrested at the gate by the gigantic form of 
Siva. This god of destruction was robed in a tiger's 
skin, while his long arms were adorned with bracelets 
of serpents. His body glowed like the sun, and *^ hun- 
dreds and thousands of Krishnas were manifested from 
the light issuing from his person." Krishna-tarka- 
la/ikara, a commentator, flourished somewhat later, and 
Krishna-misra, the dramatic author, is supposed to have 
lived in the twelfth century of the Christian era. 
Krishna Bahadur was the name of a publisher in Cal- 
cutta in 1840. Thus we find that in Hindu literature, 
the name Krishna is applied to sixty thousand beings 
who were demons, ^'hundreds and thousands'' more 

1 There are nine Vasu-devas iu Indian Uterature. 

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who issued from the god of destruction, as well as 
to the wife of the five Panglu princes, and in later 
times to princes, sages, commentators, editors, pub- 
lishers, and others too numerous to mention; indeed, 
it is now the custom to name children for popular 
gods. The native professor or pandit who lived for 
five years with Sir Monier Williams in India was named 


Of this great multitude named ** dark colored,^' the 
Krishna who commands the greatest attention is the 
eighth son of Vasu-deva and Devaki. Of his life 
there is little or no authentic history, but in later 
times a vast amount of myth and legend has been 
built around it. 

He belonged to a tribe well known in Hindu history 
as the Yadavas. These nomadic descendants of Yadu 
migrated to different localities, grazing their cattle and 
raising butter for sale to the people around them. It 
is not known when they first entered Hindustan, but 
at the time of Krishna^s birth they appear to have 
settled near the city of Mathura (afterwards called 
Muttra) on the banks of the river Jumna, about one 
hundred and twenty miles south of the city of Hast- 

At one time during his early manhood, Krishna 
and his companions left their encampment at a rural 
village near by and paid a visit to the city of Mathura, 
where it appears that they conducted themselves in a 
manner entirely consistent with their rough characters, 
breaking through the royal gate and committing other 

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depredations. It was during a great festival which 
was attended by raja Eansa the usurper, who was 
bitterly hated by his subjects. During the festivities 
a wrestling match degenerated into a disgraceful fight, 
in which Krishna and his older brother, Bala-rama, 
boi'e a prominent part. Many men were slain and at 
last the unpopular raja himself was killed by Krishna. 
The rude cowherd became popular from having re- 
lieved the city of a tyrant, and an effort was made 
to ennoble his birth by representing him to have been 
in reality the son of a chieftain of the tribe.* 

He eventually became a chief, and is represented 
as a successful warrior, although rather unscrupulous 
as to the means employed for the attainment of his 
ends. For instance, the Great War of the Maha- 
bharata seems to have turned upon the death of Drona, 
the venerable commander-in-chief of the Kauravas. 
He had nearly vanquished the Panglavas by the slaugh- 
ter of their troops, but Krishna, knowing of his great 
love for his gallant son, suggested that word be sent 
him that his son was slain. The cruel falsehood 
pierced the brave heart of the father, although the 
arrows of the foe had failed to reach it, and laying 
down his arms, he became an easy prey to the Pan- 
(Javas. Again, in the desperate single combat be- 
tween Arjuna and Karna, when Arjuna was badly 
wounded and nearly defeated, an accident to the wheel 
of his chariot compelled Karna to cease fighting, 
and laying down his arms, he called to his opponent 
saying, *^Hold your hand for a moment, and give me 
a chance to recover my wheel, for it is no mark of 

1 Wheeler's Hist, of Ind., Vol. 1, p. 469. 

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manhood to strike at me whilst I am in this extremity/^ 
Arjuna temporarily stayed his hand, but being insti- 
gated by Krishna, he severed the head of Karna from 
his body, while the victim was engaged upon the 
wheel of his chariot.^ The Maha-bharata records 
still another instance in which Krishna advised a blow 
so cowardly that it brought upon the man who gave 
it the bitter reproaches of his own brother. But 
the rude and amorous warrior was the Apollo of the 
cowherds. Handsome, dashing, and vain, this univer- 
sal lover appealed to the admiration of feeble-minded 
women everywhere, and around the very slight frame- 
work which history furnishes, masses of myth and leg- 
end have grown. He is represented as the husband 
of sixteen thousand wives, and the father of one hun- 
dred and eighty thousand sons, while his military ex- 
ploits have been repeated with wonderful exaggerations 
and mythical additions. 


The incidents connected with the death of Krishna 
are as well attested as anything concerning which we 
are entirely dependent upon Hindu sources for infor- 
mation. The Maha-bharata relates the story in care- 
ful detail, and it is repeated and corroborated by the 
Vishnu-purana and also endorsed by the Brahma- 

According to these and other Hindu authorities, 
Krishna and the people of his capital city Dvaraka, 
encamped at a place of pilgrimage upon the sea-shore, 

I This chapter being somewhat of the nature of a summary necessarily 
includes a few incidents previously alluded to. 

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ostensibly for the purpose of paying their devotions to 
the deity of Dvaraka ; but they carried an abundance 
of wine with their other stores, and feasting and 
drinking became their chief occupation. There were 
jugglers, musicians, dancers and actors to furnish en- 
tertainment, but the chief attractions were the great 
jars of wine, and the warriors of the tribe sat down 
in groups around them. Laughing and jesting being 
followed by taunts and bitter words, the scene of rev- 
elry became a drunken melee, in which the intoxi- 
cated men fought each other blindly until the whole 
tribe was exterminated except Krishna and one or two 
others who were not injured themselves, although 
they had slain their full share of victims. After 
the disgraceful fight was over, Krishna found his 
older brother dead beneath a banyan tree, and going 
into a thicket near by he sat down in troubled med- 
itation upon the loss of his kindred and the destruc- 
tion of his tribe. While thus absorbed in his own 
sad thoughts, he was seen by a passing hunter, who, 
mistaking him for a wild animal, discharged an arrow 
and slew him upon the spot. 

The Maha-bharata gives a description of the funeral 
rites and pictures the grief of his sixteen thousand 
widows, five of whom were burned alive upon 
Krishna^s funeral pile. The story of his death has 
been repeatedly endorsed by Hindu authorities, as 
late as the eleventh century of the Christian era. 
It cannot, however, be received as history in our 
sense of the word, as there is really no authentic his- 
tory in connection with this strange character. The 
idea that Krishna was crucified is an extravagant 

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myth of exceedingly modern and quite untrustworthy 

The Yishnu-purana, which dates from the elev- 
enth century of the Christian era, states explicitly 
that ^Hhe arrow entered the sole of his foot, which 
was the only vulnerable part of his body.^^^ Hence 
he was not even transfixed. 


Very early in the Christian era the story of the 
cross penetrated India, and Pantaenus, who lived about 
A. D. 180, found there the gospel of Matthew, which 
had been left with the people by still earlier mis- 

The royal grants to early Christians, inscribed on 
copper plates and containing signatures in Pahlavi char- 
acters, are still in existence, showing that Christianity 
had attained a position of some importance there, even 
during the earlier centuries of the Christian era. 

Not only was the story of the Christ carried into 
India by the early missionaries, but according to Prof. 
AVeber's version of a paragraph in the Maha-bharata, 
it was brought home by the Brahmans themselves. 
Both Weber and Lassen interpret a passage in the 
Maha-bharata to the effect that early in the Christian 
era three Brahmans visited a community of Christians, 
and that on their return *^they were enabled to intro- 

1 In his foot notes to this chapter Sir Monier Williams writes : " / know 
nothing of this absurd myth,''' showing that it has never reached the higher 
circles of scholarship. It is, however, freely circulated In America in the 
writings of Madame Blavatzky and others. See " Isis Unveiled," etc. 

2 Possibly this idea may have been borrowed from the vulnerable heel of 

3 Eusebius, Book V, Chap. 9, p. 10. 

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duce improvements into the hereditary creed, and more 
especially to make the worship of Krishna Vasu-deva 
the most prominent feature of their system/'^ In 
addition to the testimony of these celebrated Oriental- 
ists we have much internal evidence in the Maha-bha- 
rata that ** improvements^' have been introduced in 
favor of Krishna, for the primitive work has been 
incrusted and overlaid with legends and myths which 
have his glory for their sole object. It is so evident 
that these are interpolations of a later date that J. 
Talboys Wheeler says : ^* The compilers of the Maha- 
bharata have so frequently tampered with the text for 
the purpose of associating Krishna and his family 
with the Pan^avas that it is difficult to accept state- 
ments that have this object in view. ^'^ 

The Brahmanical compilers, in their anxiety to con- 
nect him with the heroes of the Great War, have 
ignored even the geographical position, and represent 
the Pan^avas as visiting the Yfidava chieftain in his 
bed-chamber, while he takes a part in their councils 
as frequently as if he lived in the same city, wltiereas 
Krishna's residence at Dvaraka was on the western 
coast of the peninsula of Gujarat, at least seven hun- 
dred miles in a direct line from the city of Hastina- 
pur. But they could only interpolate incidents and 
overlay the primitive poem with stories of his marvel- 
ous power; they could not make him the hero of the 
Maha-bharata, but only an erratic chieftain who indeed 
poses sometimes as a god, but whose assumption of di- 
vinity is greatly at variance with his personal character. 

After the history of Christ had been in the world 

1 Page 279, this volume. 2 Hist, of Ind., Vol. I, p. 68. 

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for hundreds of years, the Puranas, as the Hindus 
now have them, made their appearance, and here we 
find the wildest growth of fancy combined with slight 
imitations of historical facts. Those which are espe- 
cially devoted to the exaltation of Krishna are the 
Vishnu, which dates from A. D. 1045, the Bhagavata, 
supposed to have been written by Vopadeva, in the 
twelfth century, the Brahma-vaivarta, which appears 
to have emanated from a sect called Gosains, about 
four centuries ago, and the Padma-purana of the fif- 
teenth century. 

In these works of the mediaeval times, Krishna^s 
birth is surrounded by wonderful phenomena. The 
sky is luminous above his head, and the nymphs of 
heaven sing with joy over the birth of the four-armed 
child. Raja Kansa appears in the character of King 
Herod and slays the first six children of Devaki, the 
mother of Krishna ; the seventh son, Bala-rama, escapes 
his hand only by a miracle. Therefore the father takes 
the infant Krishna as soon as he is born and carries 
him away to a place of safety. He is followed by the 
many-headed serpent Sesha, and the snake protects 
the babe from the rain by spreading his hoods over 
him, until the child is exchanged for the daughter of 
Ya^oda, who is carried back and placed in the arms 
of Devaki. Krishna is afterwards represented as con- 
quering the serpent, and in answer to his plea for 
mercy allows him to live, but commands him to depart 
with all of his followers into the sea. 

The resemblances to Christian history in the life 
of Krishna are, however, very slight, even in the most 
recent forms of Hindu literature ; but it must be con- 

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feesed that others hare been added in modem times 
bj men who cannot read a word of Sanskrit. His 
name has been spelled Chrishna, or eyen Christ na, ap- 
parently for the purpose of confounding the two. He 
has alfrO been called Yezens, and sometimes Jezeus for 
the same reason. Bnt the dishonesty of this coarse 
(provided always it is not the result of ignorance) is 

The name of Yezeus as an appellation of Krishna 
was invented, according to Max Muller, by a fanciful 
Frenchman,* and Richard Collins, in his address be- 
fore the Philosophical Society of Great Britain, says: 
**The addition of the name Jezeus to Krishna has no 
warrant from any Hindu book that I am acquainted 
with. It bears no resemblance to any of the many 
names by which Krishna is commonly denoted in 
India, and it is not possible for it to be a translitera- 
tion of any imaginable combination of letters, .either 
in iSanskrit or in any of the dialects of South India.''* 

The statement that Krishna was bom in a cave, 
that his herald was a star and his presents gold and 
frankincense, etc., are all the productions of a vivid 
imagination in very modern thnes. The idea that he 
was born of a virgin cannot be entertained for a mo- 
ment by any one who is at all acquainted with the 
subject, in view of the great prominence given to 
Krishna's older brother in Hindu literature. 

1 Prof. Muller writes: "The name Yezeus was invented, I believe, by 
Jacolliot, and is a mere corruption of Yadu. I answered Jacolllot once (Int. 
to Scl. of Rel. page 24), but these books hardly deserve notice." (Trans. Vic. 
Inst., Vol. xxi, page 179.) Sir Monier Williams and Prof. E. B. Cowellof Cam- 
bridge think that the name Jezeus may be a corruption of the word Isa, 
which properly belongs as a title to Siva. 

a Trans. Vic Inst., Vol. XXI, p. 174. 

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In their standard works the statement is repeatedly 
made, that Krishna was the eighth child of his 
mother, and the Vishnu-purana informs us that her 
first six children were the offspring of the demon, 

Dr. Leitner, Vice-Chancellor of the University of 
Punjab, writes that *^ Krishna is a half historical 
character, and the coincidences of his life and that 
of Christ are too vague to justify the least connec- 
tion with the narrative regarding Christ, or vice 
versa "^ 


In the later forms of Hindu literature, it is claimed 
that Krishna came down from heaven to be the lover 
of Eadha, and it is in this form that he is most pop- 
ular, unless we except his wayward childhood. Ac- 
cording to the Vishnu-purana, Vishnu pulled two hairs 
out of his head, the one being white and the other 
black, and the white one developed into the son of 
Eohina, while the black one entered into Devaki (also 
a woman of the Yadava tribe) and developed into 
Krishna. It is said in the Bhagavata-purana that 
^^When Krishna and his elder brother Bala-rama be- 
gan to grow, they were dressed in frocks of blue and 
yellow, and their hair was trimmed like the wings of 
a crow, and wooden ornaments were hung from their 
necks, and they had playthings in their hands. One 
day Ya^oda (his foster mother) was very angry with 
Krishna because he would eat dirt, and she took a 
stick to beat him, but when she came to him he 

1 Vish. Pur., p. 496. 2 Trans. Vic. Inst., Vol. XXI, p. 179. 

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oift:ut:tl hu moath, and ^he looked in and eaw three 
worI«ld, and ^he marreled gnatlj for a vhOe and 
then remembered it no more-" The picture of Krish- 
na aa the boy thief (Stealing batter and curd^ from 
the cowherd.-*, or carrying off the garmoits of the 
bathers^ haa an irresistible attraction for his wor- 

S^>me of hi^ later adrentares are too gross for repe- 
tition, but they illustrate the low origin of the cow- 
herd, and the disorder and Tiolence which prevailed 
in his tribe. He is also connected with the horrible 
rites of Jagan-nath, and in the festivities of this god 
the images of Krishna and his elder brother, Bala-rama, 
and also of his sister, Subhadra, are brought prom- 
inently forward.* The Padma-pnrana gives a list of 
one hundred and eight names of Krishna to be re- 
I)eated by the devotee every morning, and the reader will 
recall that in the Bhagavad-gita he reveals himself in 
his glory to Arjuna, whereupon the frightened warrior 
exclaims, *'0 god, I see your body, I see you are of 
countless forms, possessed of many arms, stomachs, 
mouths, and eyes, on all sides. I see you void of be- 
ginning, middle, end. Of infinite power, of un- 
numbered arms, having the sun and moon for eyes, 
having a mouth like blazing fire, and heating the 
universe with your radiance. The three worlds are 
affrighted, for these groups of gods are entering into 
you ; seeing your mighty form with many mouths and 
eyes, with many arms, thighs, and feet, with many 

I Major General Cunningham, who so ably conducted the Archaeological 
Htirvey of India, haH demonstrated that the images of this god and his 
brother and sister In the Jagan-nath temple at Puri were derived from the 
threo combined emblems of the Buddhist Trinatra. 

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stomachs and many jaws, all people are much alarmed. 
And all the bands of kings, together with our principal 
warriors, are rapidly entering your mouths, fearful and 
horrified by reason of your jaws. And some of their 
heads are seen stuck in the spaces between the teeth. 
As a river's waters run towards the sea, so do these 
heroes enter your mouths. As butterflies enter a blaz- 
ing fire, so do these people enter your mouths only to 
their destruction. Swallowing all these people, you are 
licking them over and over again from all sides with 
your blazing mouths.''^ 

It is impossible to imagine a greater contrast than 
that between this description and the simple story of 
the Christ ; but the tedious and unmeaning ceremonies 
still performed in the presence of the idol are equally 
suggestive of this contrast. Sir Monier AVilliams, dur- 
ing a recent visit to India, was allowed to witness the 
early morning service in a Vaishnava temple, at Poona, 
and we give his graphic description of the scene in his 
own words. 

'^ The idol of the god Krishna first underwent a 
process of being aroused from its supposed nocturnal 
slumbers by the attendant priest, who invoked the 
deity by name. Then a respectful offering of water in 
a boat-shaped vessel was made to it. Next the whole 
idol was bathed in holy water poured over it from a 
small perforated metal lota. Then the attendant priest 
standing near, applied sandal paste with his finger to 

1 Bhagavad-gita, Telang's trans., pp 93-95. 

In a previous chapter (page 60) attention has been called to the dif- 
ference in the translations furnished by native and English scholars. 
The native scholars are inclined to use coarser language than that re- 
fined English which comes to us from the pens of such men as Prof. 
Williams, Max Miiller, Dr. MQir, and others. 

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the idors forehead and limbs, and taking a brush 
painteil the face with a bright coloring substance, prob- 
ably saffron. Next, the idol was dressed and decomted 
with costly clothes and ornaments. Then the priest 
burnt camphor and incense and moved the lights be- 
fore the image, at the same time ringing a bell. Then 
flowers and the leaves of the sacred tulasi plant, were 
offered, followed by an oblation of food, consisting of 
cooked rice and sugar. Next, water was taken out of a 
small metal vessel with a spoon and presented for sipping. 
The god was supposed to consume the food or feast upon 
its aroma, receiving at the end of every meal an offering 
of betel for the supposed cleansing of his mouth, and 
a spoonful more of water for a second sipping. 

** Finally the priest prostrated himself before the 
idol, and terminated the whole ceremony by putting 
the god to sleep for the day. 

. *^AVhile he was going through these ceremonial acts 
he appeared to be muttering texts, and during the 
whole service a Brahman was seated on the ground 
not far off, who intoned portions of the tenth book of 
the Bhagavata-purana, descriptive of the life of Krish- 
na, reiading from a copy of the work placed before 
him. At the same time a band of musicians outside 
the temple played a discordant accompaniment with 
tom-toms, fifes, and drums. 

^^ In the evening the process of waking, undressing 
and redressing the image was repeated, but without 
bathing. Flowers and food were again offered, prayers 
and texts were intoned, a musical service was per- 
formed and the idol was put to sleep once more.'^^ 

1 Brah. and Hin., p. 144. 

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The fairest estimate of any book or religion is ob- 
tained by an examination of its influence upon the 
lives of men, and it is easy to see that this foolish 
round of ceremonies before the idol morning and even- 
ing can only have a degrading effect both upon priest 
and people. Indeed, this senseless adoration of the 
image of Krishna prevents all moral and intellectual 
development in his devotees. But far more injurious 
than idolatry is the worship of an immoral god, and 
the influence of the boy thief, the dishonorable warrior, 
or the licentious lover is far more degrading to the 
people of India than a lifetime spent in dressing and 
undressing, washing and painting an idol. ^^ Among 
the Hindus,^' says Wilson, ^^ entire dependence upon 
Krishna or any other favorite deity, not only obviates the 
necessity of virtue, but it sanctifies vice. Conduct is 
wholly immaterial. It matters not how atrocious a sin- 
ner a man may be, if he paints his face, his arms, with 
certain sectarial marks ; or if he die with the word 
Hari or Rama or Krishna on his lips, he may have 
lived a monster of iniquity, he is certain of heaven.^' ^ 


In looking over the facts here gathered together, 
we learn, 1st: That Krishna worship is nowhere found 
in the early Vedic writings ; that, although sixty 
thousand Krishnas are mentioned in Wilson's transla- 
tion of the Rig-veda, they are all the names of black 
demons whose mission is depredation and devastation. 

2d. That in the Maha-bharata we have the men- 
tion of ^^ hundreds and thousands'' more which issued 

1 Rel. of Hin., Vol. II, p. 76. 

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from §iva, the god of destruction, and in the whole 
dark multitude of persons who bear this name, we 
find represented gods and demons, men and devils, 
warriors and princes, sages and commentators, editors 
and publishers. 

3d. That the light thrown upon the real life of 
the warrior who was afterwards deified by his admirers, 
reveals a very unscrupulous character. 

4th. That the resemblances to the facts of Chris- 
tian history are very slight and evidently introduced 
into Hindu literature in later times. 

5th. That the effort to show a similarity between 
two names of such entirely opposite signification as 
Christ and Krishna is of very modern origin, and re- 
pudiated by all scholars. 

6th. That the revelation of Krishna's character 
which was made to Arjuna, is as far from divine sym- 
metry as his conduct was from decent morality. 

7th. That the idolatry of the boy thief, the dis- 
honorable warrior, and the licentious lover is utterly 
degrading to the people of India. 

8th. That the fairest estimate of any book or relig- 
ion is an examination of its influence upon the lives 
of men, and the worship of this deity with his six- 
teen thousand wives has not elevated or improved the 
morals of his devotees. It is certain that much of the 
pollution and degradation attendant upon Krishna 
worship is utterly unfit for description. 

Far over and above the worship of the Hindu stands 
the ever-living Son of God. From His stainless life 
and cruel cross has been born the hope of the world. 
One glory-lit sentence from His divine lips, if lived 

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out in the lives of men, banishes forever the pages of 
wrong and cruelty from the blood-stained earth. One 
touch of His hand has broken the cold seal of the 
death angel and brought immortality to light through 
the gospel. One mark of His footstep left in earth's 
tomb illumines its portals with the golden promise of 
life. One word from His lips will lead His risen host 
to the fountain of living waters, where the waves of 
the beautiful river flow from the foot of the throne. 
He is the ^^ Captain of our Salvation/' leading on 
to victory ; He is the ^^ Morning Star/' shining in 
brightness beyond the night ; He is the ^^ Sun of 
Eighteousness/' flooding with golden light the coming 

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WE have now followed the principal line of Hindu 
literature from its earliest beginnings in the 
hymns of the Rig-veda down to the Puranas of the 
Middle Ages. Having examined the liturgy of the Brah- 
manas, the mystical philosophy of the Upanishads and 
the legal code of the Hindus ; having wandered through 
the tropical luxuriance of their epic poetry and the fan- 
ciful cosmogonies of their Puranas ; having studied the 
character of their gods from the beginning of their 
mythology down to ^iva and Krishna, their most 
modem deities, we are prepared to appreciate not 
only the beauties of their literature, but the relative 
value of their teachings. 


The term Hinduism is applied to the complex sys- 
tem of faith which characterizes the modern Hindu 
thought, and which appears to be a union of Brah- 
manism and Buddhism ; of theism and polytheism — a 
system which, although influenced to a certain extent 
by a purer principle, scruples not to worship still the 


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serpent power, or to mingle the adoration of the fish 
or the boar with that of the living God. 

Nearly two hundred millions of the people of India 
are bewildered with the strange tenets of a creed 
which combines the teachings of monotheism with the 
worship of a multitude of idols — which declares in 
one paragraph that there is but one god, and still 
inculcates on every page the veneration of some of 
the millions of deities in the Hindu pantheon. 

The word Hinduism may also be used to indicate 
the ritualism of that people in its various phases of 
development from its birthplace in the highlands 
around the sources of the Oxus river down to the 
idol temples of to-day, where the modern deities, Siva 
and Krishna, are supposed to hold their court. 

Hinduism as the appellation of all their religious 
thought was born in the early hymns of the Rig-veda, 
those simple pastoral songs, reaching back nearly to 
the birth of Moses, and living still in the literature 
of men. The ages which have come and gone since 
tlieir musical numbers were first breathed upon the 
still air have enhanced rather than diminished their 
beauty. The great heart of humanity has ever hun- 
gered for the loving touch of the Infinite. Away 
back in the ages, so near to the morning of time, the 
children of men saw the sun as he moved on his tri- 
umphal march through the heavens, or floated away 
at evening on a sea of gold and crimson splendor, 
and they sang the glories of Mitra, the god of day. 

When the tropical sun poured down his noonday 
heat, and the flowers wilted beneath his touch ; when 
the earth was parched and her sands were barren; 

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when her rivers were low and famine was abroad in 
the land ; then the clouds were gathered in a dark 
canopy before the sun, and showers were poured upon 
the thirsting earth, while the sons of the Southland 
looked upward again and brought their oiferings of 
praise to Indra, the rain god. 

When the soft wind passed through the heated air 
and came laden with the fragrant breath of the orange 
and mango blossoms they praised the bright Maruts, 
the breezes with their *^ dappled steeds ^^ that brought 
healing unto man. 

When night came down and cooled the fevered 
landscape with her gentle touch, and kissed with her 
cool breath the burning brow of her worshiper, then 
he sang of Varuna, the sky god, whose countless eyes 
look down upon the deeds of men. 

When the shadows of night fled away before the 
gray light of morning, the imaginative Hindu dreamed 
that the dawn was a beautiful woman wearing a robe 
of silvery cloud and a diadem of tinted pearl. When 
the crimson sunlight flushed the eastern sky he fancied 
that her pure face was blushing beneath the kisses of 
the god of day, and Ushas, the goddess of the morn- 
ing, wearing her crown of golden light, received his 

Thus the early hymns of the Veda were chanted 
prayer and praise, and Hinduism was brightest and 
purest at its fountain head. But this simple nature 
worship multiplied itself in a thousand forms. It 
was burdened with the liturgy and priestcraft of the 
Brahmanas, the mystical teachings of the Upanishads, 
and the cruelty of the Code of Manu. Altars were 

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stained with human blood, and for two thousand years 
living women were burned upon the dead bodies of 
their husbands, while innocent babes were thrown to 
the sacred crocodiles of the Ganges. Beginning with 
the adoration of the sun and stars, Hinduism sank 
lower and lower until in the Puranas of mediaeval times 
even the conduct of Krishna is eulogized, and licen- 
tiousness becomes a feature of public worship. 


We have seen that the earliest hymns of the Rig- 
veda are beautiful songs of praise to the forces and 
glories of nature, which, however, soon degenerate into 
the rambling, wearisome liturgy of the Brahmanas 
with their burden of priestly rule and their cardinal 
doctrine of pantheism, which claims that God is 
everything and everything is God ; that the gods 
are nourished by the food which is offered in sacri- 
fice, and without which their deities would perish with 

We have found the Upanishads to be the doctrinal 
portion of the Veda — a wilderness of mystical specula- 
tion with fanciful cosmogonies and theories concern- 
ing the origin of man. The main object of the 
Upanishads appears to be the discovery of some method 
of escaping from the endless round of transmigration 
and of resting in the arms of oblivion. To this end is 
inculcated the virtue of absolute inaction of body and 
mind. Man is taught that he must neither love nor 
hate, hope nor fear, for the most complete mental and 
physical idleness, the utmost freedom from all emo- 
tion, is the nearest approach to the heavenly state of 

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complete and eternal unconsciousness, which is the 
highest spiritual ambition of Hinduism. 

It is claimed that he who would attain this per- 
fected state must go through six successive courses of 
penance, each course to be continued for twelve years, 
and that during these seventy-two years he must do 
absolutely nothing except to meditate upon Brahma. 
If he does not do this in the present life he may 
perform the necessary penance in some future condi- i 

tion induced by transmigration. ' 

Sir Monier Williams speaks of two devotees whom | 

he saw in India, the one at Gaya and the other at I 

Benares. The arm of the first was entirely withered 
by inaction, while his motionless fist was so tightly 
clenched that the nails were growing through the 
back of his hand. The othor ^Mooked like a piece of 4 

sculpture, sitting in a niche of the Anna-purna tem- 
ple, perfectly motionless and impassive, with naked 
body smeared all over with white ashes, matted hair, 
and the forefinger of the upraised hand pointing to 
the heaven to which in imagination he seemed to be 
already transporting himself. '' * 

The epic poems of India, the Ramayana and the 
Maha-bharata, also teach the philosophy of self -dis- 
cipline and mortification until a condition of complete 
apathy is attained. 

There is a constant round of ceremonies, sacrifices, 
and oblations. There is the worship of monkeys and 
serpents, of birds and tigers, of elephants and parrots, 
of the turtle, the crocodile, and a multitude of other 
animals, as well as trees, plants, and stones. Indeed, 

I Brah, and Hin., p. 87, 

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the worship of the women of India at the present day 
consists largely in walking hundreds of times around 
a tulasi plant, which is supposed to represent the wife 
of Vishnu, or Sita, the devoted wife of Rama. Yet, 
as compared with the endless round of ceremonies, a 
few years of austerities or enforced idleness is the work 
which of all others bestows the greatest merit. A con- 
dition of entire mental vacuity is represented as being 
the nearest to complete identification with the one 
universal spirit, which involves liberation from all per- 
sonality and consciousness.^ 

The Puranas, which claim to be direct revelations 
from deity, constitute the bible of one of the most 
modern forms of Hinduism, viz., Vaishnavism, or the 
worship of Vishnu, and the form in which this sect 
now shows itself principally is in the worship of Krishna, 
one of the latest incarnations of Vishnu. Vaishnavism 
is perhaps the most composite of all the religions of 
India. It seems to teach all forms of Hinduism, re- 
gardless of their opposite characteristics : it advocates 
the claims of one god and also of a multitude; it 
teaches pantheism and penance, self-mortification and 
self-indulgence, virtue and licentiousness. 

It often advocates monotheism, and at times sets 
aside all other gods than Vishnu. The Hindu theist 
claims that there is but one god, one Being in millions 
of forms. To this universal spirit, devotion may be 

J The universal testimony of Hinduism is that the spirit or soul is im- 
mortal, but says Prof. Williams, " It is generally better to translate the 
philosophical terms Atman, Brahman, and Purusha by * spirit' rather 
than by soul, because the expression * soul ' is liable to convey the idea 
of thinking and feeling, whereas pure Atman, Brahman and Purusha 
neither ' think, nor feel, nor are conscious/ '' (Brah. and Bin., note to 
page 87.) 

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rendered through thousands of inferior gods; through 
the ghosts of dead ancestors ; through living heroes^ 
animals^ and plants ; through mountains and stones ; 
through the stars of heaven or the painted idols of 
earth. Hence, he asserts that whenever any one of 
the millions of gods in the Hindu pantheon is pro- 
pitiated by sacrifice or oblations, the Supreme Lord is 
gratified. But instead of believing '*that there is one 
mediator between God and man,'' he holds that there 
are thousands, nay, millions, of mediators, any one of 
which may be a tiger or a cow, a fish or a serpent, a 
crocodile or a baboon. 

The early Vedic worshiper paid his homage to the 
sun and moon, but the modern Hindu adores the 
crocodile, which hides amidst the weeds of the Ganges. 

How is the mind of the worshiper fallen, when, 
instead of offering his praises to the icy brow of the 
Himalaya, flushed with the rays of the setting sun, 
he brings his oblation to the serpents that infest the 
rocks at her feet ? 

Far better than modern idolatry was their primitive 
worship of mountain and storm ; better than the con- 
fused medley of their creeds were the oblations down 
by the shores of the crested sea; better than warrior 
worship, their songs of praise to the stars that sweep 
around the midnight throne ; better than the idol 
temples of to-day were the sacred groves on the foot- 
hills of the Himalayas, where the golden eagle circled 
above the highest crags, and the goddess of the morn- 
ing, with tinted robe and crown of pearl, smiled 
down upon her worehiper. 

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Abraham, 6, 15, 74, 79. 

Achilles, 155, 157. 

Adam, 6. 

Adelung, 12. 

Adhyatma RamSyawa, n 248. 

^ditya, 10, 32, 83, 53, 122. 

^olus, 61. 

Agni, 10, 30, 63, 69, 96, 116, 132, 
261; hymn to, 31. 

Agni-purSria, 368. 

Aitareya -4ranyaka, n 133. 

Aitareya BrShmawa, 76, 79, 109. 

Aitareya Upanishad, 109. 

Akbar, n 300. 

Alexander, n 12, 13. 

Alexandria, 11. 

Allah Upanishad, 101. 

Amethyst, 28. 

Amsumati river, 377. 

Analogy, between myths, Chaps. 

AnSsuya, wife of Atri, 216. 

Ancient books, 1, 2, 12, 15. 

Angada, son of Bali, 235. 

Animals, creation of, 131, 135, 

Animal sacrifices, 44, 76, 95. 

Anka, of Arabia, 58. 

Anantavat, 117. 

Anna-purna temple, 398. 

Antelope, in sacrifice, 96. 

^ranyakas, 74, 101, 109. 

Arimaspians, 68. 

Arjuna, 283, 344, 351, 392; de- 
scription of, 286; triumph of, 
293; at Dvaraka, 320. 

Arundelian marbles, 48. 

ArundhatI, 90. 

-Aryan inaders, n 233 ; myths, 48 ; 
race, 24, 29, 48, 49, 64, 160, 

Asclepias acida, 22. 

A^ka, a tree, 241. 

A^oka, the Constantino of Buddh- 
ism, n 12. 

A«va-medha, 44, 159, 164, 206, 
314, 326. 

A«va-pati, king of Kekaya, 327. 

A«vatthaman, 309. 

A«vins, 170. 

Atergatis, Syrian goddess, n 65. 

Atharva-veda, 10, 53. 

Athens, 35. 

Atman, 134, n 399 

Atri, the sage, 216. 

Avatars, 57. 

Ayodhyfi (Oude), 155, 161, et seq. 

Baal, n 100. 

Baber, n 300. 

Babylon, 80. 

Babylonian legend, n 55. 

Bacchus, 22. 

Bala-deva, 868. 

Bala-rfima, 66, 317, 380, 388. 

Balder, n 49. 

Bali, 56. 234, 235, 359. 

Bauddhas, 360. 

Beal, 4. 

Benares, 373, 398. 

Bentinck, Lord Wm., 73. 

Bhagavad-glta, n 280, 281, 304; 
age of, 343; origin of, 344; ex- 
tracts from, 344, 346. 

Bhagavata-purana, 358, 362, 365, 
385, 390. 


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Bhaglratha, 206. 
Bharata, 177, et aeq, 
Bbavishya-purSna, 869. 
Bhima, 288. 298, 801, 828. 
Bhisbraa, 299, 800, 808, 814, 865. 
Bhogavatl, capital of serpent city, 

Bhds, sacred interjection, 11. 

Bhdvas, sacred interjection, 11. 

Bible, 6, n 158. 

Bibliotheca Indica, 109, n 110. 

Blavatzsky, Madame, n 888. 

Birtbs, number of, 144. 

Boar, heavenly, 118, 127. 

Body, without, 118, 119. 

Boyses, 71. 

Brahma, prayer, 41; universal 

spirit, 52, 114, 116, 120, 131, n 

BrahraS, creator, 10, 22, 50, 51, 

62, 85, 184; day of, 123; descent 

of animals from, 135; death of, 

115, 124. 
Brahman, Supreme Spirit, 184, 

147; feet of, 116. 
Brahmans, priests, 6, 8, 41, 42, 

56, 74, 85, 88; divine right of, 

75, 84, 86, 97. 
BrShmanas, part of the Veda, 8, 

Brahmana period, 14. 
BrahmSnl, 216. 
Brahma-purSna, 858. 
Brahma- vaivarta, 369, 385. 
Brahmanism, n 9; origin of, 75, 

86; formulation of, 14; tyranny 

of, 85, 92. 
Brahmanism and Hinduism, n 15, 

n 17, n 390, n 398. 
Brahmanical compilers, 277, 282. 
Brahmaw^a-purfina, 374. 
Bride^e, ocean, 250. 
Brighu, 85. 
Bryant, 861. 
Buddha, 14, 56. 
Buddhism, 101, 854. 
Buckley, 48. 
Bushby, J. H., 68. 
Biihler, 4. 
Burr, Dr., 843. 

Oabul, n 800. 
Caesar, n 296. 
CTutra, month of, 175. 
Cakra, 168, 865. 
Calcutta, 6, 68, 281, 878. 
Camalata, love*s creeper, n 28, 

Camasane, n 65. 
Caste, 21, 86, 87; sins against, 

Caucasian mountains, n 57. 
Celtic, n 29. 
Cerberus, 85. 
Ceremonies, 76, 78, 84, 88, 97; 

burden of, 74, 90, 97; funeral, 

84; marriage, 84, 89. 
Ceres, 60, 51. 

Ceylon, 228, 287, 250, 864. 
Chaldeans, n 100. 
Chalva, king of, 880. 
Champollion, n 85. 
Chandogya Upanishad, 101, 124, 

141, 861 ; extract from, 104, 121, 

Child, golden, 18, 27; hymn to, 

China, 14, 80; dragon of. 58. 
Chips from a German Workshop, 

n 6, n 18, n 15, n 19, n 29. 
Christ, 383, 887. 
Christian era, 54, 92, 168, 878, 

Christian history, resemblances to, 

888, 885, 392. 
Christianity, 62, 92. 
Christians, Syrian, 62. 
Chronology, 158, 277, 356. 
Oitra-kn^a, 214, 262, 266, 268; 

description of, 208. 
Colebrook, H. T.. 8, 67, 367. 
Collins, Richard, n 316, 343, 386. 
Confucius, 14. 
Cosmogony, 6,52, 59; Hinda, 121, 

122, 128; Mosaic, 129. 
Cosmography, 126. 
Cosmos, 128, n 129. 
Councils of war, 296. 
Cow, sacred, 28, 76, 95. 
Cowell, Prof. B. B., 4, n 110, n 

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Crimes, 93. 145; penalty for, 152. 
Crown of youth, 217, 257, 269. 
Cunningham, Maj-Gen., n 388. 
Cyrus, king of Persia, 14. 

Daksha, 169. 170. 

Dakshina, 96. 

Dan(2aka, forest, 180, 185, 192, 

Daniel, 14. 
Darmesteter, 4. 
Dasaratha, raja, 164, 165, 172; 

march of. 172, 174; confession 

of, 195; death of. 201, 213. 
Death, king of, 36, 107, 200. 
De Bello Gallico, n 296. 
Deer, golden, 225. 
DeukaBon, ruler of Thessaly, n 81. 
Devas, deities, 115, 142. 
DevakI, 363, 371, 378, 379, 385, 387. 
Devolution, 136. 
Dhanvantari, physician of the 

gods, 60. 
Dhrita-rflsh^, 274, 283 ; retires to 

the jungle, 315; death of, 316. 
Divine song, 342, 344, 352. 
Division of raj, 288. 
Donar, German, 43. 
Domestic ritas, 76. 91, 95, 97. 
Dowson, 157. 
Draupada, raja, 289, 293. 
DraupadI, 289, et sea. ; beauty of, 

289, 291 ; marries five husbands, 

294, 296, 368, 377. 
Dreams, penance for, 76. 
Drowa, 288, 308, 309, 350, 351. 

378, 380, 
Du^dSsana, 283, 301. 
Durga, wife of iSiva, 50, 61. 64. 
Duryodhana, 280, 283; combat 

with Bhima, 287. 
Dushana, 222. 
Duncker, Prof., 125. 
Dvapara, third age, 56. 
Dvaraka, 317, 381, 382; destruc- 
tion of, 321,371. 

Eagle, of the Yggdrasil, 58. 
Eagle, golden, 28, 400. 

Earth, Sita's invocation to, 270; 
goddess of, 271. 

East India Co., 2. 

East wick, Prof., n 57. 

Edda, n 49, n 58. 

Egg, cosmic, 122, 123, 359, 361, 

Eggling, Julius, 4, 74. 

Egypt, 80. 

Egyptian fable, 58 ; mythology, n 

English government, 66, 68. 

Eorosh, Zend, 58. 

Eos, 37. 

Epeus, 51. 

Epics, 4, 9, 48, 52, 152, 155, n 
158, 159, 160, 272, 277, 394. 

Epicurus, n 360. 

European orientalists, 68; schol- 
ars, 1, 3, 105, 280, 355. 

Eusebius, n 383. 

Evolution and pantheism, 125. 

Execration, hymns of, 41. 

Extermination, war of, 311. 

Faber, 361. 

Faith, confession of, 114. 
Fires, sacred or sacrificial, 30, 77, 

78, 182; funeral, 95. 96. 
Flood, tradition of, 80, 367,374. 
Fortune, explanation of varied, 

Frey, Northern god of rain and 

sunshine, 49. 

Gandharl, n283, 286. 
Gandharvas, celestial musicians, 

Gandharva Visvasu, 78. 
Gawilva, 305, 345. 
Gawesa, the Janus of India, 51, 64; 

description of, 63. 
Ganga, 206, 216. 
Ganges, 1, 3, 7, 73, 149, 153, 

159, 160, 161, 182, 204, 271, 

325, 397, 400; crossing the, 205; 

story of, 206. 
Garhapatya fire, 96. 

Digitized by 




Oanuia, Vishnu's bird, 57, 58, 

Gkunaa-purSna, 874. 

Genesis, 128. 

Germany, 6, 106. 

Gerd, 49. 

Girav-raja, 185. 

Gods, conclave of, 165, n 283. 

Godavarl river, 218. 

Goloka, 870. 

Gopala, 859. 

Gopas, 870. 

Gogra, river, 161. 

Gopis, 858, 870. 

Gospels, resemblances to, 864. 

Gosains, 872, 885. 

Gotama, 40. 

Great War, 278, 288; prepara- 
tions for, 800. 

Greek, n 29. 

Greece, gods of, 43, 45, 47, 60, 

Grecian laws, 14. 

Griffin of chivalry, 58. 

Gnffiths, 4, n 163. 

Grote, 48. 

Groves, sacred, 1, 15, 100. 

Gupta kings, 860. 

Gujarat, ^ 


Hanuroan, 233, 236, n 305; in- 
terview with Sita, 243; capture 
of, 244. 

Hamasa, flamingo, 117. 

Hardwick, n 279. 

Hari. 131. 

Hariaeandra, king, 79. 

Hari-van^a, 358. 

Hastinapur, ancient Delhi, 283. 

Haug, Prof., n 77, n 79. 

Heaven of Brahma, 147, 165; of 
Indra, 148; temporary, 146; of 
Vishnu, 149; inhabitants of, 

Hebrews, 14. 

Hector, 157. 

Hel, place of the dead, 49. 

Hells, number of, 149,866; va- 
riety of, 150. 

Helen, 155. 

Henry the Eighth, n 266. 

Hercules, 254. 

Hermit, 180, 196, 216. 

Hermit's son, death of, 197, 200. 

Horm6d, n 49. 

Herodotus, 48. 

Hesiod, 84, n 60. 

Hestia, 80. 

Heyne, n 48. 

Hieropolis, n 55. 

Himalayas, 1, 7. 153, 223. 

Himavat, 206, 322. 

Hinda, deities, 62, 64. 266; the- 
ology, 146, n 337; law, 84, et 
8eq. ; literature, divisions of, 8, 
74, 99, 152; scriptures, 12; wo- 
men, 91, 275. 

HindOism. 394, 396. 

History, of India, n 235: of San^ 
skrit literature, n 12, n 13, n 
14, n 19. 

Homer, 7, 48, 158, 277, 278. 

Humboldt, Baron Von, 128. 

Idolatry, 17, 26, 400. 

Iliad, 36, 44, 47, 48, 155, 158, 278, 

Incarnations of Vishnu, 159. 
India, 1. 

Indian epics, 9, 152. 
Indra, 24, 29, 42, 64, 64, 396; 

hvmn to, 25, 46; horses of, 47, 

Indrajit, son of Ravana, 252. 
Indra-prastha, 288. 
Inscriptions, 14. 
Interpolations, 159, 279, 200, n 

297, n 302, 343, 384. 
IsEL Upanishad, 112. 
/s-lord. 111. 
Israel, children of, n 100. 

Jacobi, 4. 
JacoUiot, M., 356. 
Jagan-nath, 358, 859, 388. 
Jambavati, 364. 
Janaka, raja, 169. 
Janaka, daughter of, 170. 
Janus, 51, n 55. 

Digitized by 




Japanese, 58. 

Japheth, 11. 

Jessamine^ 154. 

Job, 128. 

Jolly, 4. 

Jones, Sir Wm., 3, 6, 12, 94, 112, 

Jove, 29, 43, 44, 45. 
Jumna river, 288, 379. 

Kaikeyl, wife of raja, 177, et seq. 

Kali, 42, 61. 

Kalpa, period of time, 126, ' 134, 

151, 872. 
Kama, god of love, 51. 
Kansa, king, 362. 380, 385. 
Kanva, 75. 
Kapila, sage, 206. 
Karria, 299, 311. 

Kartti-keva, god of war, 51, 63, 64. 
Kashinath Trimbak Telang, 158. 

280, n344. 
Ka«I, 373. 

Ka/ha Upanishad, 106. 
Kauravas, 274, 283, 304. 
Kau«alya, queen, 168, 186. 
Kaushltaki-brahmana Upanishad, 

Kekaya, king of, 327. 
Kena Upanishad, 105. 
Kerkes, of the Turks, 58, 375. 
Kh&nd&, 10. 
-flT^andas period, 15. 
iT^andogya, n 101. 
Khara, orother of >Stlrpa-naka, 

221, et seq. 
Kinsuka, tree, 209, 812. 
Kirni, 58. 
Klaproth, 11. 
Kosala, raj, 161, 193. 
Krishna, 56,61, 279, 297, 309, 317, 

376; birth of, 362, 371; wives of, 

n 320, 364; description of, 342, 

349; self-adulation of, 348; 

worship of, 387; death of, 319, 

365, 381. 
Krishna Bahadur, 878. 
Krishna, a Rishi of Angira, 377. 
Krishna, son of Devakiputra, 378. 
KrishTia Draupadi, 377, 379. 

Krishna Dvaipayana, 354, 377. 

Krishna-mi«ra, 378. 

Krishna-tarkalankara, 378. 

Krishna-varma, 379. 

Kshatriya, 56, 86, 87, 90, 96. 

Kura, 283. 

Kurma, tortoise, 55, 59. 

Kurma-purana, 373. 

Kuru-kshetra, 300. 

Kusa, son of Rama, 267, 268. 

Ku«a or sacred grass, 77, 96, 118, 

Kuvera, god of wealth, 166, 184, 

Lakshmana, 168. 

Lakshml, wife of Vishnu, 149, 

Langlois, M. A., 357. 
Lanka, 155, 239. 245, 251. 
Lassen, Prof., 279,344, 875. 
Latin, 11, n 29. 
Latin poets, n 85. 
Lava, son of Rama, 267. 
Legge, 4. 
Leitner, Dr., 387. 
Life in exile, 210, 215, 218. 
Linga-purana, 372. 
Loki, northern god of fire, 49. 
Lorinser, Dr., 344. 
Love conquers death, 334, 340. 
Lucretius, n 360. 
Lying justifiable, 92, 181. 

Mackenzie, Collin, 3. 

Madhwa, commentator, 187, 188. 

Madhwacharya, 856. 

Magadha, 364. 

Maha-bharata, 5, 9, 13, 14, 53, 
55, 83, 152, 155, 272, 325, 342, 
354, 357, 362, 378; age of, 278; 
derivation of, 272 ; historical val- 
ue of, 273, 275 ; religion of, 275 ; 
sanctity of, 274, 276; transla- 
tion of, 280; legends of, 283, 

Mahades, 358. 

Maha-deva, 53. 

Maghaven, 75. 

Digitized by 




Mahratta, n 800. 

Man, origin of, 131. 

Man, reconstruction of, 134. 

MSnavas, a school of Brahmans, 

U&ndSkml river, 209. 
Mamiala, 139. 

Mandara mountain. 69, 238. 
Mantra, portion of Veda, 8, 11. 
Mantras texts, 69, 84, 98. 
Manu, 10, 14, 81, 85. 
Manu*s code, 83, 84, 62, 54, 145, 

862; infallibility of, 98; date of 

84, 189; cruelty of, 93, 94. 
Manuscripts, 8 ; Vedic, 13 ; forged, 

Mflrkamteya-purSna, 867. 
Marriage, child, 26; of a Brah- 
man, 88 ; of RSma and SltS,171 ; 

of Satyavan and Savitrl, 882. 
Mars. 49,61. 
Marsh man, 78. 
Maruts, storm gods, 28, 80, 89, 54, 

896; hymn to, 39. 
Massie, Dr., 70. 
MStali, 256. 
Mathura, 879. 
Matsya, fish, 56. 
Matsya-purflna, 874. 
Menelaus, 156. 
Mercury, 61. 

Meru, Mount, 126, 148, 321. 
Metempsychosis, 26, 110, 139. 
Middle Ages, 11, 61, 289. 
Mill, Dr., n 100. 
Milman, Dean, 281. 
Minerva, 61. 
Mitford, 14, 48. 
Mithila, 170. 

Mitra, 23, 24, 32, 34, 78, 395. 
Mohammedan invasion, 371. 
Monkeys, 137, 168, 248, 250, 262. 
Monkey expedition, 248. 
Monotheism, 19, 21. 
Muir, Dr., n 38, n 53, 281, n 389. 
Mmier, Prof. Max, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 

12, 13, 14, n 19, 101, 102, 112, 

n 280, 343, 386, n 389. 
Mutilated text, 67. 
Mythology of Vedas, 28; of Greece, 

30, 35, 48, 51 ; of Egypt, n 35; 

of Persia, 29; of Northern Eu- 
rope, 29, 45, 48. 49, 58; of later 
Umda works, 60; Roman, n 55. 

Naciketas, 107. 
Nagas, serpent demons, 124, n 

Nakula, 283. 

Nala, monkey general, 250. 
Nandi-grSma, 215. 
Narada, 880, 831. 
Nara-sinha, 66. 
Nectar, recovery of, 59. 
Neptune, 84, 35, 49. 
Nicholson, John, 277. 
Nidhogg, serpent, n 58. 
Night scene, 810. 
Nymphs, celestial, 147. 


Oannes, n 65. 

Odin, 46. 

Odyssey, 36, 278, n 293, n 321. 

(Effir, 49. 

Oldenberg, 4. 

Om, sacred syllable, 67, 102, 131, 

n 349, 872. 
Omens, 96, 317, 318. 
Orientalists, 8, 15, 72, 159. 
Oude, 161. 
Oxus river, 395. 

Pada, text, n 376. 
Padma-puraria, 353, 359, 385, 

Pagoda, black, 358. 
Pahlavl, 383. 
Palmer, 4. 
Pampa lake, 232. 
Pawrfavas, 274, 283. 
Pandits, or HindG professors, 3, 

5, 6, 60. 
ParwZu, 283. 
Panipat, n 300. 
Pantasnus, 383. 
Pantheism, 19, 21, 114, 125, 137, 

355, 361. 
Parasu-rama, 56. 

Parijata, 59. 

Digitized by 




ParvatI, wife of /Siva, 61. 

Patanjali, 280. 

Penance, 92. 

Persia, 14, 57. 

Persian, n 29; myths, 49; trans- 
lation, 107; drawing, n 57. 

Philosophical Society of Great 
Britain, 343. 

Phoenix, Egvtian fable, 58. 

Plato, 361. 

Pluto, 35, 36. 

Poetry, 1, 7, 15, 37. 

Polyandry, n 296. 

Polygamy, 26. 

Polytheism, 19, 21. 

Pra^apati, creator, 10; year, 105. 

Praiapatya penance, 70. 

Prakrit, 123, 370. 

Pralhada, 349. 

Priestly class, 40, 75, 86, 97. 

Privileges of Brahmans, 75, 86. 

Pra^amaka, 10. 

Punishment, future, 149. 

Purawas, 12, 57, 118, 273, 352, 
399; signification of name, 354; 
origin of, 356; age of, 357. 

Purawic age, 44. 

Puri, n 388. 

Purusha, 22, 109, 132, 136, 360, n 

Purusha hymn, 21, 85. 

Pushpaka, n 262, 263. 

Pushya, 182, 188. 

Pyrtaneum, 30. 

Pyrrha, wife of Deukalion, n 81. 

Pythagoras, 14. 


Radha. wife of Krishna, 359, 369. 

Radhakant Deb, Raia, 68, 69, 71, 

Raghavas, 199. 

Raghu, 261. 

Raghu-nandana, 67. 

Rakshasas, 189, 216, 237, 240. 

Rama, 156, 159; birth of, 168; 
marriage of, 171; installation 
of, 176, 264; escort of, 184, 194, 
262; banishment of, 185; the 
farewells, 186. 192: treachery 
of, 262, 267, 

Rama and Sita, 208, 210, 217, 219. 

Rama Candra, 56. 

Ramayana, 4, 9, 54, 126, 137, 
152, 156, 160, 276. 278; age of, 
157; author of, 159; length of, 
160; story of, 161; teaching of, 

Rammohun Roy, 100, 105, 107, 

Ravawa, demon king, 63, 157, 
167, 364. 

Ravana, description of, 223, 229, 
252; palace of, 224, 240; his 
pyre, 157, 257. 

Repeated creations, 123, 124. 

Resurrection, 315, 316. 

Rewards, 146. 

Rhys, Davids, 4. 

i2ig-veda, 1, 3, 10, 16, 24, 27, 36, 
38, 42, 52, 67, 75. 

i^ig-veda Sanhita, Wilson's trans- 
lation, 4, n 23. 

Rights of women, 91. 

i^ishi, sage, 11, 85, 90. 

iJishis, 113. 

i^ishyamuka, mountain, 233. 

Roer, Dr., 109, 112. 

Roth. Prof., n 10. 

Rudra, 135. 

Rudras, 39, 53, 54. 

RuminikI, 364, 365. 

Sabeanism, n 100. 
Sabula, mountain, 251. 
Sacred books of the east, 4. 
Sacrifice, 29, 44, 67, 72, 76, 78, 

80, 82, 88, 95, 99, 103. 
Sagara, 206. 
Sahadeva, 283. 
^iRiva-puraim, 366. 
/Saiva-pura, 366. 
Saloka, 147. 
iSalya, king, 311, 312. 
Sama-veda, 10, 101, 102, 103. 
Saman- verses, 11. 
Sampati, vulture, 236. 
Sandals, Rama's golden, 214, 215, 

Sanandana, sage, 127. 
Sandrokottos, Indian prince, n 12. 

Digitized by 




Sanhito, 4, n 876. 
iSankara AeOTjtL, 109, 856. 
Sftnkhya philosopby, 188, 860, n 

866, 867. 
Sanskrit language, 2, 6, 11, 12, 

Sanskrit scholars, 67, 74, 101. 
Sanskrit literature, 16, 97, 152, 

155, 852, 854. 
Sarah, wife of Abraham, 6. 
SaramS, 86, 97. 

Sarasvati, goddess of speech, 51. 
SarayQ river, 161. 
iSastra, 200, 245. 
iSiatapatha-brflhraana, 54, 55, 81, 

88, 140, 296. 
fiiatru-ghna, 168, 212, 268. 
Saturn, 80. 
Satya, first i^, 56. 
Satyakama, 116, 117. 
SatyavSn, {prince, 826. 
Savitrl, princess, 826; a sacred 

text, 70, 98. 
Sayana, n 28, 109, n 376. 
Scriptures, Hebrew, 2, 5. 
Sea, goddess of, 154, 249. 
Sea of milk, 126. 161, 167, 168. 
Self, highest, 114, 133, 186. 
Semitic languages, 13. 
Semitic races, 19. 
iSesha, serpent, 64, n 224, 363. 
Similarity of myths, 28, 29, 31, 

Simurgh, of Persian mythology, 

/Si^u-pala, 365. 
Sita, 155, 170; petition of, 191; 

abduction of, 226; search for, 

230, 236; replies to Hanuman, 

243; replies to Ravana, 228, 

242; trial and vindication, 259; 

banishment of, 265; sons of, 

267; departure of, 269. 
iSiva, god of destruction, 39, 43, 

50, 51, 52, 54, 61, 64, 149, 169, 

171, 291, 354, 366; receiving 

the Ganges, 206, 208. 
Skanda-purana, 372, 375. 
Sleipnir, Odin's horse, 48. 
Smriti, 98, 101. 
Soma, the god, 22, 41 ; hymn to, 

28; juice, 28, 24, 40, 99; the 
moon, u 22, 142; plant, 22. 

Sophocles, n 85. 

Soul, immortality of, 108, 146. 

Soul, of the wicked, 146. 

Soul, of the faithful, 147. 

Spirit, destination of , 113, 141. 

Squirrel of Yggdrasil, n 58. 

iS^^dha, 172. 

Stl, 60. 

iSri Bhagavata, 366. 

iS^ruti, diyinely revealed knowl- 
edge, 98, 101, 113. 

Stevenson, 15. 

St. Hiliare, 15. 

Stoma hymn, 109. 

Subhadra, sister of Krishna, 388. 

/Sadra, 22, 86, 87. 

Sugrlva, 138,204, 232, 262; story 
of, 234: installation of, 285. 

Sumantra, counselor, 176. 

Sumitra, 168. 

iS^na^^pa, story of, 79. 

Supreme being, 53, 64. 

Surabhi, sacred cow, 59. 

iSQrpa-nakha, 219. 

SOrya, 20, 30, 32. 

SOrya sOkta, 90. 

Satra, 74. 

Satra period, 13. 14. 

SQtrakaras, 69. 

Suttee, 66; disgrace of avoiding, 
70; eulogy of, 71; instance of 
escape from, 70; not taught in 
iJig-veda, 66, 70, 72. 

Svar, sacred interjection, 11. 

Svayam-vara, 289. 

/Svetaavatara Upanishad, 119. 

/Sveta, 62. 

Syrian goddess, n 55. 

Talmud, n 57. 
Tartarus, king, 150. 
Testament, old, 2, 5, 12. 
Testament, new, 5. 
Teutonic language, n 29. 
Theogony, Hesi^'s, 36. 
Thetis, n 60. 

Thieving, penalty for, 94. 
Thor, 43, 45, 48. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 



Thunar, Saxon, 43. 

Tiger's skin, sacred, 182, 313; 

worn by ^Siva, 62. 
Todas, n296. 
Tournament, 284. 
Troops, disposition of, 301, 303, 

Translators, 3, 4. 

Transmi^ation, 346, 347, 348, 
397; tnple ^stem of, 139; dan- 
gers of, 143; of sinners, 146; 
difficulties of, 142. 

Triad, 51, 52. 

Troy, 155, 

TulasI dasa, n 158, 159. 

Tyr, northern god of war, 49. 

Udgatri, priest, 103. 

Udgitha. 102, 103, 104. 

Ulysses, 51, n 293, n 321. 

Universities, 6. 

Upanishads, 9, 52, 69. 74, 83, 93, 
99, 344, 362, 396; derivation of, 
100; age of , 101; monotheism 
of, 114; teaching of, 113, 121, 
131, 136, 140; number of, 100. 

Urd, judgment hall, n 58. 

Urissa, 373. 

Ushas, the dawn, 26, 27, 30, 33, 
37, 49, 63, 396. 

Utkala, 358. 


Vahish-pavamana, 104. 

Vaiaya, 86, 87. 

Vaiasaneyi Upanishad, 111. 

Vaka Dalbhya, 104. 

Vallabha, 356. 

Valmlka, 137, 138, n 158, 159, 

266, 269. 
Vamana, dwarf, 56. 
Vamana-purawa, 373. 
Varaha, tne boar, 54, 55. 
Varaha-purawa, 372. 
Varuwa, sky god, 23, 24, 30, 33, 

34, 38, 63, 64, 78, 896. 
Vasish^ha, sage, 176, 182. 
Vasu-deva, 363, 368. 
Vasu-devas, nine, n 378. 
Vasukiyserpent, 59, 223, n 224, 349. 

Vayu air, 10, 23, 51. 

Vayu, the god. 116. 

Vayu-purana, 368. 

Veda, 1, 5, 8, 16; antiquity of, 5, 
11 ; doctrinal portion of, 99. 

Vedas, 9, 14, 36, 42, 177. 

Vedas and Suttee, 66. 

Vedanta, 102, 125, 141, 348, 361, 

Vedic age, 9, 44; deities, 37, 42, 
47, 50; songs or hymns, 1, 7, 11, 
13,15,29,46,48,50, 155, 162; 
authority, 8. 69, 72; literature, 
6, 16, 101, 113. 115, 120; 
worship, 400. 

Venus, n 60. 

Vestals, 31. 

Vibhishana, brother of Ravana, 

Vidura, 285. 

Vindu, lake, 208. 

Viraj, secondary creator, 22, 123. 

Virata, king, 296, 297. 

Vishnu, 28, 50, 56, 57, 59, 64, 81, 
351, 354; shield of, 223; crea- 
tion by, 127; as the supreme 
god, 118; institutes of, 150; 
. incarnations of, 54. 

Vishnu-pura7ta, 53, 123, 127, 135, 
149, 359, 367, 883, 385, 387. 

Vopadeva, 367. 

Vraja, 357. 

Vritra, evil spirit, 43, 256. 

Vulcan, 43, U, 

Vyasa, 159, 295, 362. 


War, council of, 296. 

Warfare, rules of, 302. 

Weber, Prof., 62, 140, 158, 160, 

279, 280, 344, 383. 
West 4. 
Wheeler, J. Talbovs, 5, 15, n 181, 

n 235, n 266, 281, n 297, 384. 
Whitney, Prof. W. D., n 10, n 12. 
Wife, directions for choosing, 88. 
Wilford, Lieut., 5, 855. 
Wilkins, 159. 
Williams, Sir Monier, n 9» 15, n 

17, 60, 88, 94, 98, 101, 157, 160, 

233, 279, 281, 343, 352, 867, 

Digitized by 




379. n 888, n 380, a 889, d98, n 

Wilson, Prof. H. H., 2, 3, 4, 15. 

24, 67, 68, 69, 71, 73, 137, 281, 

Wilson*8 translation, R-v. San- 

hiU, n 28, n 358. u 376, 891. 
Wives, duUes of, 69, 77, 90. 91, 

Wives of Krishna, 820, 864, 892. 
Wives of RAvana, 229. 241, 257. 
Wood, 48. 
World, destruction of, 128, 124. 


Yfldavas, 297. 

Yadavas, destruction of, 817. 
Yadu, n 886. 
Yagus, verses, 11. 
Yama, 85, 64, 107. 150. 
Yama, abode of. 86, 140; dogs of, 
85, 87; hymn to, 36; bearing 

away the soul of SatyavSn, 

Yama's boons to Savitrl, 838. 

YatfodS, 863, 885. 

Yezeus, 886. 

Yggdrasil, 58. 

Yoga, 846, 366. 

Yog^in, n 118. 

Yojana, a measure, 127, 870. 

Yudhi-sh/ira. 283. 296; corona- 
tion of, 818; abdication of, 321, 
pilgrinia^ of, 822; ascension 
of, 323; m hell, 324; in heaven, 

Yukhush, fabled bird of the Tal- 
mud, n 57. 

Yupa-post, used in sacrifice, 77. 

Yuva-raja, 174, 235. 

Zephyrus, 51. 
Zoroaster, 14. 

Digitized by 


Digitized by 


Digitized by 


Digitized by 






*5 |»4i 

-14 -70 _ 
~1J to " 


-AUG 3 1 197 8-